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Newmarket Cambridgeshire Handicap Draw and Pace Bias

The big meeting this weekend is hosted by Newmarket as it’s Cambridgeshire day. The Cambridgeshire itself is certainly one of the toughest races of the season but I’m expecting to highlight some fairly strong course biases in this article so perhaps the race isn’t as difficult to figure out as it initially seems.

Cambridgeshire Draw Bias

On initial inspection, it might seem as though there isn’t much of a draw bias in the Cambridgeshire.

There is virtually nothing between win percentages and PRB data for the low, middle and high draws whilst the place percentages hint at high being slightly favoured over low and middle. The highest third of the draw has a place percentage of 16.67% whilst middle and low have place percentages of 14.35% and 14.14% respectively.

The individual stall data may reveal more of a Cambridgeshire draw advantage though.

The first thing to catch the eye is the fact that 8 of the top 9 PRB figures belong to double figured stalls and 6 of those are 19 or higher.

According to the draw data line graph, which is showing PRB3 data (PRB3 is a rolling three-stall average percentage of rivals beaten), there is an increase in performance around stalls 20-24 so perhaps that is the sweet spot.

There is no rock solid trend here but it does seem a trend has been developing in recent years. It seems more often than not runners are favouring the stands’ side (high draws) and four of the last five Cambridgeshire winners have finished very close to the near side rail. All of those last five runnings have been won by horses drawn between 21 and 29.

Looking only at big field, 9f races here since 2016 there is now a clear bias towards those drawn high. Low draws have a PRB of just 0.42, middle draws have a PRB of 0.52 and high draws have an impressive PRB of 0.56.

The PRB3 line graph representing individual stall performance now shows what seems to be an increasing advantage towards those drawn high. There is though a slight peak in performance around the 12-14 stall mark as well for some reason.

The important points to note with this more recent draw data are that the top 21 stalls for PRB3 are all double figure numbers and 9 of the worst 13 performers are single figure draws. This strongly suggests we want to avoid low draws in the Cambridgeshire.

Cambridgeshire Pace Bias

Here is the data from the Pace Analyser for Newmarket’s 9f course in big fields.

It's a fairly small sample, as you’d probably expect, so take win percentages with a slight pinch of salt but it’s interesting to see that front runners dominate for win percentages. Early leaders have a very impressive win percentage of 9.38% which is more than twice the next best win percentage of 4.65% which belongs to mid division.

Given the sample size, the place percentages should give us a stronger idea of any likely Cambridgeshire pace biases. The top place percentage belongs to front runners as well but the difference in place percentage between front runners and mid division is negligible. There is also only a small drop off for prominent but the figure that really stands out is the place percentage for held up. That place percentage is just 11.65% and the win percentage is just 2.91%.

It seems that we want to avoid hold up performers in this race just as much as we want to avoid single figure stalls.

Cambridgeshire Draw and Pace Combination

This is the heat map, sorted by PRB since 2009.

And this is the same data but only for 2016 onwards.

The more recent data seems to be the data we should concentrate on but some of the trends should be cross referenced with the overall data as we are dealing with a limited sample size for this recent data.

Logic would dictate that if front runners getting the near side rail are at an advantage then leading from a high draw should be the best combination but it actually seems as though front runners are doing extremely well from middle draws. Leading from a high draw is also an advantage , but possibly not quite as much of one.

A higher draw does seem to suit prominent racers better than a middle draw though but that switches back again when dealing with those racing in mid division. Perhaps those on the near side rail that are settled in mid division find it too difficult to get a run through.

We’ve established that those that are held up do struggle to run into the places and it seems there isn’t much difference whether they are drawn in the middle or drawn high.

Cambridgeshire 2021 Pace Map

Any talk of pace biases is irrelevant without looking at the pace map as course pace biases can always be reverses depending on the pace setup in a race.

I often use pace maps that only show the last two runs but the majority of these are seasoned handicappers who have seen plenty of action so the above pace map takes into account their last four races. It’s worth noting this suggests there isn’t likely to be a pace burn up but no less than eight of these were early leaders last time out and three of them have led on both of their last two starts so it is probable there will be a bit more of a contested speed than this pace map initially suggests.

I’ve added two blue boxes and a green box to the pace map. The blue boxes show groups of runners that are likely to be disadvantaged by draw and/or pace whilst the green box highlights where the winner is most likely to come from. Based on the data from more recent years you could easily put a line through anything drawn 18 or lower so feel free to be more harsh with your own calculations.

Back to the pace setup, there is some pace amongst the lower numbers but three of the more likely pace setters are drawn in stall 29 or higher. With the ground possibly faster on the near side plus the majority of the pace this side too, I’m becoming more and more confident that the top half of the draw, and probably the top third, is the place to be.

How Well Handicapped Do You Have To Be To Win The Cambridgeshire?

This is an important question to ask. In these big handicaps you often hear about the ‘group horse in a handicap’. That’s not crazy talk either, in 2019 subsequent Group 1 winner Lord North took this race and the year before future Group 3 victor Wissahickon landed the spoils.

Last year’s winner, Majestic Dawn, is back again this year off a 10lb higher mark. Lord North, eventually rated 25lbs higher than when winning this and his stable mate, Wissahickon was rated 10lbs higher than his winning mark for this race within 6 months.

The 2017 winner, Dolphin Vista, was rated a stone higher than his rating when winning this within 5 flat starts whilst Spark Plug, winner in 2016, went up 8lbs for his victory and never rated higher.

Third Time Lucky (2015), subsequently rated 11lbs higher whilst Bronze Angel, who won this twice off marks of 95 and 99, also won handicaps later in his career off 104 and 105 with his rating going as high as 111.

Meanwhile Educate, the 2013 Cambridgeshire winner, went up 8lbs to a mark of 112 for his victory and although never rating higher, he did run to that mark of 112 several times in the next year.

So ideally you are going to need a horse to be capable of running to at least an 8lb to 10lb higher mark in the near future if they are going to have a chance of winning this.

On the subject of the official ratings, it’s also interesting to see what sort of rating does well in this race. You need a runner well enough handicapped to win but also classy enough to get into the race in the first place. This year there is 24lbs between the top weight and the bottom weight.

In the past 11 years all winners have been rated between 107 and 87 – difficult to rule many out on that for win purposes (only the top weight and two bottom weights).

Nine of the last eleven winners have been rated 94 or higher which would rule out the bottom thirteen horses as likely winners. A relatively big six of the last ten winners have been rated between just 94 and 99 and only a third of the field fall into that ratings band this year. Four of those are drawn in single figures if you wanted to narrow those runners down further. That would leave just the following runners:

Does The Cambridgeshire Suit Milers or Ten Furlong Horses?

This intermediate distance of 9f means we’ll see a mix of milers stepping up in trip and ten furlong horses dropping down in distance. Very few of these will have run at this distance last time out, or possibly at all in their careers.

Eight of the last eleven winners of this raced at a mile just before taking this contest and five of those subsequently won a race over ten furlongs or further. This probably suggests this is slightly more of a speed test than stamina test and milers definitely have a good record in this, or at very least horses with the speed for a mile (some may have raced over 10f previously as well).

Cambridgeshire 2021 Thoughts

A lot is made of John Gosden in this race. Yes he has won two of the last three renewals but he’s also only won two of the last ten, just as many as Marcus Tregoning. Gosden’s two runners both head the betting having both been given seemingly favourable high draws, although being drawn 30+ isn’t statistically as much of an advantage as being in the mid to high 20s.

Uncle Bryn didn’t make the grade to be a Derby horse this season but he returned from a 113 day break to win an average Ascot handicap last time out. He got the run of the race on a day where front runners dominated and he’s 2lbs badly in with his penalty. Frankie Dettori seems to have chosen stablemate Magical Morning over him and I think I’d agree with Frankie’s choice.

Magical Morning brings some really solid handicap form into this but he very much got the run of the race when winning off a 7lb lower mark at Sandown in July and he’s been beaten in his other five handicap starts. Given most runners need to be 8lbs to 10lbs well in to win this, I just can’t see him being a 114+ horse.

Astro King is one I had in mind for this for a while. I backed him in the Royal Hunt Cup and this 9f trip on fast ground might be perfect for him off just a 4lb higher mark than at Ascot. Had he been drawn ten stalls higher he’d be a fairly strong fancy but 17 is a bit low for me to get involved, certainly at single figure odds.

In the last six years there have been three 3yo winners, a 3yo runner up and a 3yo third so younger horses clearly go well in this. Anmaat is an interesting contender for this and has the right sort of profile. He’s 2lbs well in having beaten the probably well handicapped Faisal last time out at Doncaster and he definitely looks the sort who could be at least 8lbs to 10lbs well in. He’s maybe drawn a little lower than ideal in 22 and does have to prove he’s speedy enough for this having raced over 10f on his last three starts but he’s certainly place material at the very least.

Irish Admiral is still feasibly handicapped and has seemingly now got his act together but stall 15 is a bit low for my liking. Given stall 2, and his overall form level, I’m also against Montather and surprised he’s as short as he is. Long Tradition could be anything but the form of his recent runs isn’t that strong and he has a little to prove in first time cheekpieces on handicap debut.

Bedouin’s Story is one I am tracking closely. He did second best of those held up at Sandown in July, best of the double figure stalls in the Golden Mile at Goodwood and then again was best of those held up at Chelmsford last time out. He stays this far, even though most of his runs have been over shorter and he’s going to win soon when getting the right set up. This should be run to suit but whether or not his hold up run style will allow him to get involved is a big question mark.

I’m finding it very difficult to make a case for much else, for varying reasons, but one does standout for me at a price of 100/1 at the time of writing with a couple of bookies. Naval Commander ran in a hot race at Sandown last season on ground that was probably a bit soft, on a day where he was a bit too patiently ridden to feature. He was 6th and those in front of him that have continued to race this season have rated 18lbs, 16lbs and 13lbs higher. Naval Commander is just 1lb higher here.

He did win on his next start after that Sandown run. That was his seasonal debut this year in June. At Ascot on his next start he was third – the winner and runner up both won next time out and the 4th has been beaten by a short head since. He was then 6th, beaten a length and a half at York – the winner, runner up and 7th have all won since and the 3rd and 4th have placed since. His only run since was a close third at Epsom when not getting a clear run. He’s still lightly enough raced to prove better than his current rating. I’m not convinced this horse should be any bigger than 33/1 and even at that price I’d have made him a small bet. First time cheekpieces could do anything to him but it’s worth remembering first time blinkers did the trick for Majestic Dawn last year.

All things considered I’m probably sweetest on Naval Commander as well as Astro King and Anmaat. I can’t completely rule out Astro King based on a draw of 17 and then strongly fancy Anmaat from stall 22 but Anmaat is just about on the cusp of how low I’d be willing to go whilst Astro King is unfortunately a bit too low for me (and a shorter price than Anmaat). So my two against the field would be ANMAAT and NAVAL COMMANDER, both each way, at around 12/1 and 100/1 respectively.

Hot Form at Chester

There are a trio of horses that are interesting from a hot form perspective in the 2.35 at Chester on Saturday which is a 7f handicap.

Muntadab’s course and distance success (from stall 8) two weeks ago has been well boosted since with the 2nd, 3rd and 7th all winning next time out. The 5th and 6th also reoppose here but they were well enough beaten to not be of interest here. Muntadab is only 2lbs higher here and is much better drawn in stall 2. He’s unlikely to get quite as easy lead this time though.

The Kodi Kid was an eyecatcher in that race and he’s previously run in hot races at Chester already this season. He’s not entered here but is one for your trackers.

Mossbawn’s last two wins at Thirsk have both worked out well, particularly his latest victory. The 3rd, 4th and 7th have all won since whilst the 5th, who reopposes here, was 2nd on his next start. That 5th, Strongbowe, did best of those held up when behind Mossbawn and he should be marked up for that. He’s 3lbs better off than Mossbawn for a 1.5 length defeat and he should get closer this time around.

Muntadab, Mossbawn and Strongbowe are all well enough drawn and should all be prominent if reproducing their run styles from last time out. I’d be surprised if all three didn’t run well and there is perhaps a tricast, or at the very least a decent single amongst them. Slight personal preference would be for Mossbawn who is lightly raced and on a roll but Muntadab does have that important Chester form.

Ayr Gold Cup Draw and Pace Bias Plus Western Meeting Pointers

A different format last week but thankfully I still managed to flag up the chances of Hurricane Ivor who won the Portland. This weekend’s big meeting is of course taking place at Ayr. It’s the final day of the Western Meeting and the big races of the day are the Ayr Silver Cup and the Ayr Gold Cup.

I’ll delve into potential draw and pace biases in this race shortly but it’s worth noting that the draw bias does definitely change from year to year in this so the best clue of all is likely to come in the Bronze Cup which will be run 24 hours earlier than these two races. Middle to low looked the place to be on Bronze Cup day.

That’s all the future though, on to what’s happened in the past.

Ayr Gold Cup Draw Bias

This data can be applied to any big field sprint at Ayr, including the Bronze Cup and Silver Cup.

This race can be run on extremely soft ground but it’s normally run on ground that is good to soft or better so it should pay to concentrate on this data.

Historically it has paid to be lower rather than higher. More than half the winners in this sample have come from the lowest third of the stall whilst high has performed better than middle, an indication that you probably want to be drawn one side or the other and not marooned in the middle.

The place percentages are better for low as well with a place percentage of 23.53% for those drawn on the far side of the course. This time around middle performs better than high for place percentage although there isn’t much in it and low is the clear winner again.

All metrics are useful when examining draw biases but in terms of purely finding out if there is an advantage one way or another PRB (percentage of rivals beaten) is often the top dog as every runner is contributing to the data sample. The PRB figures for this course and distance are 0.53 for low, 0.51 for middle and 0.46 for high. Again this points towards lower the better.

No draw analysis would be complete without looking at the individual stall data as it’s often not just a case of low v middle v high. There are usually some micro biases and cut off points within the overall draw.

The individual stall PRBs aren’t overly conclusive. The two best readings come from the two highest stalls suggesting a very high draw is an advantage although no other stall, 20 or higher, appears in the top fourteen places.

It’s easy to see why the data favours lower drawn runners. Stalls 2 to 10 inclusive all appear in the top thirteen places meaning nine of the top thirteen stalls are 2 to 10.

Stalls 14 to 25 inclusive all appear in the bottom fourteen stalls as far as PRB is concerned. That’s a sequence of 12 stalls all performing badly, much worse than stalls 2 to 10. This all appears to suggest low is the place to be in this race.

So we definitely want to be drawn low and high numbers have no chance, is that right?

Absolutely not!

In 2020, on good to soft ground the finishing positions of the first 5 home in the Bronze Cup were 21, 22, 4, 14, 24 so higher draws certainly can’t be ruled out. It does seem that low is favoured more often than not though.

Ayr Gold Cup Pace Bias

Big fields can bring about the best in hold up types but do these big Ayr sprints suit the patiently ridden or the prominently ridden?

Despite the straight track and cavalry charge style race the pace tends to hold up remarkably well here. Prominent and mid division produce more winners but from far more runners. In terms of win percentages (9.09%) and place percentages (29.55%) front runners do best of all here. Prominent is next best on the place percentage leader board, followed by mid division, with held up the worst run style for seeing horses to best effect here. When you see a sliding scale like this it’s a pretty sure sign of a pace bias.

One stat that stands out is that backing front runners blind each way in these races gives you a level stakes profit of 17.11 whilst the same strategy for hold up performers yields a 110.71 loss!

Ayr Gold Cup Draw and Pace Combination

I make no secret about my love for the draw and pace combination heat maps on Geegeez Gold and we’re going to see an insightful heat map here.

It’s quite telling that those drawn high seemingly need to be ridden aggressively to be seen to best effect. The best draw and pace combination is leading from a high draw and it produces an amazing PRB of 0.73. Being prominently ridden from high draws also sees horses to good effect but the more patiently ridden you are from a high draw, the more you are likely to struggle.

If drawn low, prominent seems best of all, with low or middle draws seeming quite crucial for those that are going to be held up. If drawn in the middle it seems mid division isn’t the place to be. This often seems to be the case with these heat maps and is probably because horses racing in mid division in big fields from middle draws seem the most likely to experience traffic problems (at least those that are held up can switch wide, those in mid division will be surrounded by other runners and are forced to wait for the gaps to appear).

Ayr Gold Cup 2021 Pace Map

All this talk of pace is irrelevant unless we look at the pace maps for these races. Even if the course tends to lend itself to front runners, an excess of early leaders can cause a pace collapse handing the advantage to those that like to come from behind.

Two things stand out with regards to this pace map. For such a big field there isn’t a whole lot of pace. Just Frank likes to lead, as does Mr Wagyu whilst Brad The Brief tends to only track the leaders.

Second of all, the pace is in the middle of the course. Both of these facts seem bad news for hot favourite Great Ambassador who isn’t going to have a really strong pace to aim at and he isn’t going to have a whole lot to take him into the race either unless he’s switched towards the centre early on.

This probably isn’t going to be the ideal scenario for hold up performers or those that stay a little further. This should be a relative speed test and with the course favouring pace anyway I’d be pretty keen to side with something that races prominently at least. I’ll share some thoughts on some form contenders further down this article.

Ayr Silver Cup 2021 Pace Map

Will we see more pace on offer in this contest?

Possibly a couple more pace options in this one but at the same time the Gold Cup has two real trailblazers, there may be none in this field!

Bergerac tends to lead but he was only ridden prominently last time. Likewise Soldier’s Minute can lead but he often only chases the leaders too. Similar comments apply to Mid Winster and Air Raid. Bergerac seems the most reliable pace option and maybe a couple of other jockeys will take the initiative and go forward to give their mounts the best chance possible.

Unlike the Gold Cup there is a better spread of pace. Bergerac will give the lower numbers a decent tow, Mid Winster should lead the middle pack and the higher numbers will probably follow Air Raid. If the lower drawn runners track over towards the middle we should see a lot more pace there than on the near side rail.

I’d be keen again to support something that will be ridden near the pace in this as I’m not convinced there is going to be enough pace to allow too many to get into this, especially not the most patiently ridden runners.

Ayr Western Meeting Top Trainers

This is a big meeting, Ayr’s biggest, so it’s interesting to investigate which trainers seem to target this meeting.

Given the smaller sample for looking at just September results at Ayr it makes sense to concentrate more on the each way data than the win data. This table is sorted by Each Way %, showing how often these trainers are hitting the frame, and those figures should be cross referenced with the EW PL to see if they are meeting market expectations.

There are some real stand out trainers in this list. The record of Bryan Smart certainly shouldn’t go unnoticed but in terms of trainers who are doing really well with some serious volume the likes of Tim Easterby, Mick Channon and Keith Dalgleish are all trainers to take very seriously with their runners at the Western Meeting here at Ayr.

Thoughts For This Weekend

With this information the immediate thought is ‘how can we profit from it this weekend?’ and I’ll now share my thoughts on some runners who, at the very least, should be able to outperform market expectations.

Ayr Gold Cup Preview

There is rain around for most of Friday but it doesn’t look likely to amount to a great deal and probably just saves them watering the course.

On the assumption of relatively fast ground I most certainly want to be with something that is going to be front rank, something that prefers fast ground and something that is in good form. A low to middle draw also seems an advantage both historically and based on the races that took place on Friday. One runner that fits that category, and pretty much the only runner that does so, is Mr Wagyu. He's had a ridiculously good season, winning five races including the Stewards’ Cup consolation race.

He’s gone up in the weights since that last victory, and has been well enough beaten twice, but with excuses. The first of those defeats came at Ripon, a course where he was beaten 18 lengths, 10 lengths and 8 lengths on his last three tries there. Then last time out in the Portland Handicap he ran really well to finish 6th, finding the extended 5f too sharp on that occasion. It’s certainly true that the handicapper has made life far more difficult for him now but this seems the perfect setup for him. At around 20/1, with up to 7 places on offer at the time of writing, I’d be pretty interested in him, for all a place will be more likely than the win.

Just Frank has shown he is fairly versatile in regards to the ground this season and maybe connections have finally found the key to him at this distance with cheekpieces on. I think he is capable of running well but he’s around half the price of Mr Wagyu and his chance would almost certainly be helped by rain so if the going is good or better I’d prefer My Wagyu. Stall 18 is also a bit higher than ideal by the looks of things.

The majority of the others I like in this race are hold up performers and I think the value is definitely going to lie with those nearer the pace.

Ayr Silver Cup Preview

This takes place just over an hour before the Gold Cup so in terms of draw advantage we are relying on Friday’s racing and historical evidence.

Again, I am very keen to side with something that races pretty close to the pace in this. From a form perspective those nearer the head of the betting all seem to have very good chances and the majority of those market fancies are likely to be ridden fairly prominently. Much might depend on how the ground turns out.

Blackrod will appreciate the step back up to 6f and he’s progressing well. He’s run in some top 3yo sprints this season and has been ridden prominently on his last two starts. His best form is on faster ground and he’s drawn in 10 which seems pretty much perfect. The key thing to note here is he runs off the same mark as when winning over an inadequate trip last time out because that was an apprentice race and this is an early closing race.

Magical Spirit won this last year and has slowly returned to form this season. He should race prominently but he seems best on something resembling good to soft ground. Assuming the ground is faster I’m happy to leave him alone. He’s drawn in stall 4.

Royal Scimitar is a horse I have been following this season. He was only half a length behind Blackrod in July, when drawn on the wrong side of the track, and he is 2lbs better off this time around. He should race fairly handily but the unknown is the first time blinkers. If they have a positive effect he will probably win this, if they don’t he might well finish unplaced. He’s drawn in stall 9, right next to Blackrod, and probably appeals more as a win only bet than an each way if the ground stays fast.

Bergerac is another runner that I’ve personally been following and he’s been really consistent all season. He was runner up at Doncaster on softer ground on his penultimate start, behind a subsequent winner (the third and fourth have finished runner up and third since so good form) and he followed that up with a win at York on faster ground. He’ll likely try to make all from stall 5 which should see him to good effect. Unfortunately he’s 3lbs wrong under a penalty. Assuming there isn't lots of rain he should still run very well and is expected to be amongst the places.

None of those runners are going to make anyone rich so here are two horses at bigger prices that might be interesting, but both are drawn high which looked a negative on Friday. Total Commitment at 16/1 looks overpriced on his Stewards’ Cup 4th. He can lead or race prominently and whilst that effort came on soft ground, he has also won on fast ground. I’d be slightly more interested if the rain came for him as it would inconvenience a few of those fancied horses above that want the rain to stay away.

The other big priced one of interest is Lord Rapscallion. He’s drawn in 23, one stall lower than Total Commitment, and he’s been running in top handicaps all season (4th in the Buckingham Palace Stakes, 3rd in the Bunbury Cup). He didn’t look to stay a mile last time and he’s interesting based on his only 6f run on turf this season when runner up to Chil Chil (easy winner but now rated 14lbs higher) and in front of Great Ambassador, the ante post favourite for the Gold Cup. He’ll race handily and he handles fast and soft ground, just like Total Commitment. Unless high draws do well in the Silver Cup this pair seems best left alone though.

Assuming fastish ground I think Blackrod and Bergerac are near certainties to be in the frame at the least. If they were to compete on current ratings Blackrod would be 8lbs worse off with Bergerac than these terms which suggests Blackrod should be the pick of the two. Royal Scimitar is risky with the blinkers on but if he takes to them he should beat both Blackrod and Bergerac.

Another Race Of Interest

In May, in this column, I put forward a good case for Redarna at a big price in a Haydock handicap. He ran a blinder that day to finish a close 4th and that race worked out well with the 3rd, 6th, 7th, 8th, 10th and 11th all winning shortly after and the 2nd, 5th and 9th all going close on their next starts. That race was run on heavy ground and in that preview I stated that Redarna would be almost unbeatable off his current mark on easy ground at Ayr.

I made that statement knowing the horse had form figures of 1111241, with that 4th coming at 10f (all other races in that sequence had come at 7f). As it turned out Redarna’s next run came at Ayr but I swerved him that day because of fast ground – his only previous win on fast ground had come off a 21lb lower mark. Unfortunately for me he added another 1 to his course form figures at a fair enough price of 9/2. That was only a five runner race but the runner up has gone close on two occasions since so it’s not bad form.

Redarna is a good horse in cheekpieces at 7f or a mile when racing on good or softer ground. His form figures in this scenario read 12117215014. Interestingly the 5 and the 0 came on his two runs at Thirsk so it seems he doesn’t get on with that course.

Given cut in the ground or Ayr, he tends to run very, very well. At Ayr with cut in the ground he’s pretty much unbeatable (in the right company off this sort of mark). He proved he can win off this sort of mark on fast ground at Ayr in July and two defeats elsewhere on fast ground aren’t of great concern. He’s just 1lb higher than his last win and 1lb higher than that hot form at Haydock in May. On fast ground on Saturday he’ll rate a fair bet, on good or even softer he’d be a stronger bet. He runs in the 4.50.

Other Hot Form To Note

Hot form, that is races that are throwing up subsequent winners or runners that are getting much closer to winning next time out, is my main consideration when finding a bet. There is some hot form on offer in the Dubai Duty Free Handicap (3.25) at Newbury on Saturday.

This race looks set to be dominated by the classic generation with several of the well fancied 3yos yet to fully show their hand, which makes backing those horses, or opposing them, a bit risky. However King Of Clubs surely has to be a very solid selection in the race.

His run at Newmarket at the July Meeting was really hot form. The winner won a French Group 2 next time out and is now rated 21lbs higher, the runner up won a Group 3 on his next run and is now rated 9lbs higher. It was no surprise therefore that King Of Clubs won at Sandown on his next start and the 4th also went in at Goodwood on his next run.

King Of Clubs only won by a nose at Sandown so I didn’t expect him to go up by much, even if he was much better than the bare result (not many got into it from behind). However the handicapper put him up 7lbs for that, presumably as much to catch up on the hot form at Newmarket as to ‘punish’ him for the Sandown win.

It’s reassuring though that the runner up in that Sandown race, Victory Chime, came out and won at Chester a week ago off a 4lb higher mark, once again franking the form of King Of Clubs. He’d rate a decent enough each way choice on Saturday even if there are likely to be a few in this race that are better than their current marks.

Doncaster Racecourse Pointers: Draw Bias, Pace Bias, Top Trainers and Top Jockeys

I’m going to be changing the format of these ‘previews’ going forward, hopefully for the better. I’ll be doing a little less research on individual races each week and concentrating more on data and angles that can be useful for more than just one race a week.

If you have any feedback on the newer format, or any extra angles you'd like to be included, feel free to drop a reply below.

Doncaster is the feature meeting on Saturday with the highlight being the St Leger. I’m a bit more partial to some of the quality handicaps on offer there though, notably the Portland Handicap which is run over 5.5f.

Portland Handicap Draw Bias

On the subject of the Portland Handicap, is it best to be drawn low, middle or high?

In big field sprints (5f to 6f) on ground that ranges from good to firm to good to soft it appears there is a slight disadvantage being drawn on either of the flanks, whilst the very centre seems to underperform slightly too.

The line graph above shows the PRB3 data (PRB3 is a rolling three-stall average percentage of rivals beaten) spread across the track and is a great representation of where you might want to, and not want to be drawn. The main takeaway is that being drawn in the bottom five stalls is probably lower than ideal with the highest three stalls also seemingly the place not to be.

The draw and pace combination heat map is a great tool for showcasing any potential draw and pace combination biases. It looks as though leading from the middle is very effective, despite needing to dominate a large field, but the very best combination is racing in mid division from the centre third of the draw. You would think that there was a fair chance of not getting a clear run given that combination as there will likely be horses either side but whilst that will always be a possibility, it’s clearly not been a barrier to success with runners perhaps spreading out enough to allow clear runs through.

If drawn low, being held up is ideal but there is very little in the PRB figures for each run style with low draws. From the higher draws mid division does worst of all with almost nothing between the other run styles.

Overall this looks a very fair course and distance and it would be a bad idea to rule anything out completely based on draw or pace biases but it seems that the very low and very high draws do struggle a little whilst early leaders, or those that race in mid division, from middle draws should perhaps be marked up a little.

Both graphs are available in the draw analyser tool and also on the racecard draw tabs for each race.

Doncaster Pace Bias

A few major handicaps aside, you don’t tend to get too many huge field races at Doncaster meaning the draw can have less of an effect in many cases. Without draw biases it can be a bit more difficult to narrow fields down or find runners that may have an edge due to course biases.

It’s still worth being aware of any potential pace biases the course can throw up.

It’s not always wise to lump such a wide range of distances in together as pace biases can vary plenty depending on the distance of the race but it seems that the data is pretty similar at trips of a mile or further in mid sized fields run on good to soft or better ground.

In general this looks a very fair track in terms of pace as hold up horses are not at a disadvantage. Generally in racing it is an advantage to be nearer the pace and many courses can give an extra advantage to front runners but that is not the case at Doncaster. In fact it is the worst run style statistically for most of the distances involved in this sample.

A course not favouring front runners doesn’t necessarily mean you should only back hold up performers. That run style does marginally have the best place percentage here across all of these distances combined but prominent racers do almost as well. As with all races, the individual pace maps should always be considered and if there is likely to be a pace collapse than those that are patiently ridden will normally benefit whilst a lack of early pace will often suit those ridden nearer the pace.

As an example, there is a lot of early pace in the Portland Handicap this year, as you’d probably expect for a big field sprint. No fewer than eight of these runners have made the running on at least one of their last two outings.

With a possible burn up likely those ridden in the rear half of the field could be advantaged. We already know that it’s a bit of a disadvantage to be drawn very low or very high meaning those in the blue box on the pace map above could be in the sweet spot and are likely to be seen to best effect. It would be no surprise at all if the winner was to come from one of those runners and some quick form study should be able to narrow it down further. If you wanted to be kind you could add Hurricane Ivor into the mix – he’s drawn a little lower than ideal but has run well in several races this season that have worked out to be ‘hot form’.

At the other end of the pace scale there is the Park Stakes.

Here we have just one front runner so the progressive Danyah could get an easy time of things up front. Whilst front runners might not do as well in slightly bigger fields over longer distances here, the best place to be on good or faster ground in this field size over 7f here is on the lead. Front runners have the best win percentage (19.19%) and the best place percentage (36.6%).

Top Doncaster Trainers

If you’re looking for the best trainers at Doncaster racecourse here are the top Doncaster trainers who have had five or more winners in the past five years, sorted by IV (Impact Value). So we are seeing how often they win at this course relative to their counterparts.

Near the very top is John and Thady Gosden, who will have plenty of runners at the major meetings at Doncaster. They’ve enjoyed a very good 2021 as the metrics outperform the previous record for John Gosden before he was joined on his license by son Thady.

Owen Burrows is also amongst the top trainers here and it’s worth noting that his runner on Saturday is Danyah, previously noted as being the likely recipient of an easy lead in the Park Stakes.

Some other trainers to note, who are profitable across all metrics, include Andrew Balding, Ian Williams and James Fanshawe so pay particular attention to any entries at Doncaster, for all meetings, from those stables.

At the very top of the tree though is David Elsworth who has an IV of 3.38, followed by Martyn Meade with an IV of 3.04. Meade is also profitable across all metrics.

Top Doncaster Jockeys

Sometimes it can pay to look at A/E (Actual v Expected) when trying to find the best jockeys at Doncaster as this metric takes into account the market and as we know, not all jockeys are afforded the same opportunities.

Ignoring A/E for just a second, the jockeys most likely to have winners here, with the top IV figures, are Frankie Dettori followed by Jane Elliott, Ryan Moore and Andrea Atzeni.

The name that stands out from that list is Jane Elliott and she is the jockey with the top A/E figure of 2.32. That puts her well clear of the next best jockey Rowan Scott who has an A/E of 1.57. For whatever reason she appears to ride this course extremely well. The fact that she doesn’t get as many opportunities though means she won’t be seen at this racecourse as often as many others.

David Egan and Andrew Mullen are no strangers to this course and they both have very respectable A/E figures and both are profitable to follow here. The much criticised Jamie Spencer also seems to get on pretty well with Doncaster, the long straight giving him plenty of time to get his rides into contention.

Hot Form at Doncaster

One runner I have already mentioned above is Hurricane Ivor. He’s drawn a little lower than ideal, but only by a couple of stalls, and he has some pretty hot form to his name.

In July Hurricane Ivor was 2nd over 5f at Ascot and although the winner has somewhat let the form down since, both his runs have come on ground that was faster than ideal. The 3rd has won since and the 4th has won twice since so it’s clearly a decent form line.

However an even better run potentially, off this mark and crucially over this seldom used distance of 5.5f came last time out at York.

Hurricane Ivor once again ran to Ascot form by beating Mondammej who won his next start after this. Mondammej reversed form with Jawwaal next time out but only just and Jawwaal was a fast finisher. The fact that they both ran very well again next time out in the same race gives this form good perspective.

The winner of this race, Copper Knight, only narrowly went down to Mondammej in that next race too whilst Live In The Moment was 2nd next time in a listed race despite the ground being too fast and not being favoured at the weights.

Another factor to note when weighing up hot form is run styles and course biases. The first two home in that York race above were both up with the pace the whole way whereas Hurricane Ivor was held up, and he didn’t get a clear run. He can be marked up from that performance and should have an excellent chance on a track where hold up performers do better, as long as the draw doesn’t catch him out.

It's worth noting that Copper Knight, Mondammej and Jawwaal all reoppose here too. The two to concentrate on at the weights are probably Hurricane Ivor and Jawwaal given Copper Knight and Mondammej have gone up in the handicap since. It's very interesting that Jawwaal has Doncaster form figures of 321011. He was below par in this last year though and whilst Hurricane Ivor is drawn a little lower than ideal in this year's Portland, it has to be said that Jawwaal is possibly drawn a little too high.

Old Borough Cup Preview and Tips: Autumn War and The Trader Look Value Calls

A really good day of racing lies ahead if competitive racing is your thing but it does have to be said, a few of these big handicaps this weekend have slightly underwhelming turnouts. Several of the heritage handicaps are closer to half full than reaching their maximum fields and I’m not entirely sure why that is (prize money seems largely in line with what is was last year).

The big 7f handicap at Ascot makes plenty of appeal as a betting medium but personally I feel as though I never enjoy much success in these Ascot cavalry charges (even if there are fewer runners this year) whereas I find I have plenty of success in Haydock handicaps for whatever reason so I’m going to go with the Old Borough Handicap, generally one of my favourite races of the season.

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Draw

Only the 12 runners this year so is there still any sort of draw bias?

I’ve only included races run on good to firm to good to soft in this sample. Haydock is prone to being soft or heavy, especially this meeting, but if we include races on softer ground the data might be less relevant as the runners tend to explore different ground in the straight on softer ground. We end up with a small sample but hopefully the data is more reliable.

The win data suggests low is NOT the place to be, but in small samples the win data isn’t particularly helpful. The place percentages have high as the best but low not far behind and middle comes out worst. This data is either slightly misleading or suggests no real bias.

The PRB data is most reliable in small samples as every runner contributes to the data sample. The PRB data for this is in line with the place percentages in that high is best, followed by low, then middle.

If we want to expand our data sample, rather than changing the going parameters in the Draw Analyser, we can instead include extra distances. By including 12f races as well we get this data:

We again see a similar trend here with low draws performing poorly for win purposes, but still bettering middle when it comes to place percentages and PRB. In fact this time around the best PRB score belongs to low, instead of high, for all there is very little in it.

Given the field size isn’t huge here and the data doesn’t really have any strong biases I’m inclined to think that the draw shouldn’t have too much bearing on this.

Pace

Should we ignore pace as well?

We should never ignore pace - even at fair tracks there can be a pace bias due to the individual pace setup of the race.

The majority of winners here tend to be held up but that’s how the majority of runners are ridden. The best win percentage does lie with those held up but the best place percentages are with prominent racers and then front runners. Overall there is very little in the figures here and no strong pattern. This suggests that this course and distance is one of the fairest, both in terms of pace and draw. Barring a very weak early gallop or very strong early gallop in this contest it should be the best horse on the ground that comes out on top.

Old Borough Cup Pace Map

So will there be an individual pace bias in this race?

There isn’t a huge amount of pace in this one which could give those who race nearer the pace a slight advantage. Hochfeld is a habitual front runner whilst The Trader and Noble Masquerade tend to race prominently but other than that the rest seem likely to be delivered late.

Anything that wants further could be inconvenienced the speedier types at this trip could benefit.

The Runners

Here is the field for the 2021 Old Borough Cup, in early odds order.

Global Storm

Had been largely consistent, if not progressive, until finishing a well enough beaten 10th in the Ebor a fortnight ago. This is much easier but that performance won’t be good enough to win this. There is a suspicion that his very best form has come at Newmarket with course form figures 1161212. On top of that he seems a bit better with cut in the ground. He did finish a fair 3rd at Ascot in the Copper Horse Stakes proving he doesn’t ‘need’ Newmarket but that Ascot race has worked out really poorly, not throwing up one subsequent flat winner.

On the subject of form not working out, Global Storm’s 2nd at Newmarket over this trip on his penultimate start hasn’t worked out either, not one of the first nine finishers has won since. He’s definitely short enough in the betting all things considered, for all this isn't the strongest renewal of this race.

Noble Masquerade

With this race possibly suiting speedier types due to a like steady gallop, Noble Masquerade certainly won’t lack for speed having won over 11f this season. He does have to prove his stamina though. He seemed not to stay 14f last season at York, and generally looked to not be staying 12f. He started this season off over an extended mile and ran very well but his form really took off this season when headgear was applied, producing form figures of 2121. In regards to stamina, he rallied okay over 12f at York on his penultimate start when runner up but probably improved again for a slight drop in trip at Windsor when winning by 4 lengths. That was only a 5 runner race and Noble Masquerade has been hit with a 6lbs rise in the weights for that effort.

Given he’s by Sir Percy you’d probably expect him to stay this far, the image above shows the record of Sir Percy progeny in flat handicaps and they have won over as far as 2m1f and only have a marginally worse place percentage at this trip than at 12f but it has to be a concern that Noble Masquerade has been beaten in all five starts over 12f or further whilst he ran so well over an extended mile earlier this season. For all he’s one of the more progressive ones in the line up he’s a risky bet at the price.

Rajinsky

Throws in the occasional bad run but he’s a solid yardstick in these staying events. In fact his last six runs at 2m have resulted in form figures of 221232. However this race isn’t over that distance, it’s over 14f and his form figures over this trip are 12946. Those better runs came off 11lb and 8lb lower marks and he looked in need of further when behind Global Storm at Newmarket in July in that handicap that hasn’t worked out well. Even under ideal conditions he finds it very difficult to get his head in front so whilst he’s normally a reliable place bet at 2m, he has to be taken on over this 14f trip, especially without a strong gallop on the cards.

Rhythmic Intent

Another fairly reliable runner who ran very well last time out at York. He was a staying on 5th over 12f in a race where it favoured those who were up with the pace so to make up the ground he did suggested he’s one to be with very soon. He shaped as though in need of further that day but the ground was probably more of a factor than the distance in how he ran. His form figures on good to firm read 03645 whereas his form on good to soft or soft reads 3321311472027. Those efforts suggest not only is he much better on softer ground, but also that he’s clearly not as well handicapped as he was previously. In fairness though, he’s also been competing in much better races.

He does stay this trip, he won over 13f last season and he was a creditable 4th in this last season but he got his ground last year and was still beaten off a 1lb higher mark. He should prove more reliable at 12f on soft ground before the end of the season for all he could run pretty well here.

Autumn War

He seems to have rediscovered his form again, undoubtedly because the cheekpieces have gone back on for his last few runs. His form figures in this headgear read 11422 and he finished lame for that 4th. He ran very well last time out over 2m and if you watched that run you’d think he needs all of that trip but his last two wins have come over this distance in races that have worked out well at Wolverhampton and he’s been runner up over this trip on turf on his last two attempts.

The negatives are that he can race a bit awkwardly and he probably doesn’t put absolutely everything in. He needs to be delivered late and would have made far more appeal had there been more likely pace on offer. He should run well though at a very fair price. I’d certainly take him to finish ahead of Rajinsky over this trip.

Indianapolis

A frustrating sort who is on a nice mark now but he still seems incapable of taking advantage – or even finishing in the places. He’s finished either 4th, 5th or 6th on his last four runs and looks a bit paceless and a bit tripless. You could argue he’s worth a try over 2m2f but he’s flopped on both tries at this distance. Connections have clearly had similar thoughts as they swap the cheekpieces for a visor on this occasion in an attempt to sharpen him up but he was well beaten on his only run in a visor so it’s difficult to predict a sudden resurgence.

Alright Sunshine

Talented but unpredictable, Alright Sunshine was a narrow 2nd in this two years ago. It’s not clear what his best trip is – he has looked a stayer but then confounded that by winning over 12f earlier this season, albeit in a relatively uncompetitive race. That was his first run in a visor but it didn’t quite work so well second time out when he was midfield in the Northumberland Plate.

If on a going day he has the form to go close in this but he’s not one to completely trust and he’d make more appeal if there was more pace in the field.

Hochfeld

Probably the sole pace angle in the race and he could go well if things go his way. He definitely runs the odd terrible race but most of those come on softer ground. On faster ground he’s generally a more solid proposition and he ran a decent 4th over 2m at York, a trip that probably slightly stretches him, but he had no excuses when slightly disappointing last time out at Newmarket, a course he has previously won at.

Looking at his better performances, four of his five handicap wins have come in single digit fields but he was 2nd of 20 in the Northumberland Plate this season. He has a 50% place strike rate on good to firm which reads well with that going likely this weekend but a few other stats gathered from the Profiler tool are a worry. He’s won 3 out of 4 for Franny Norton but has not placed in five runs for Joe Fanning who rides here. He hasn’t managed a place in 5 runs in September, in fact he’s only placed in 1 of his 11 runs in the final four months of the year during his career.

He’s also seemingly much better on very sharp courses so Haydock might not suit as well as some others. He’s run here four times and has run just about okay on three occasions but was poor on the other attempt. I’d have loved to have been able to make a strong case for him given he should get an uncontested lead, and I’m not completely ruling him out, but he doesn’t look a bet even at double figure odds.

Island Brave

A pretty reliable runner who was just behind Hochfeld last time out over 2m. He’s running like a horse who isn’t badly handicapped but isn’t well handicapped though, generally finishing around the places or just outside. He runs here off a mark of 98 and his last win came off 97 whilst he’s also won off 96, 95 and 93. His last two wins have come over 2m but he has won at this trip, admittedly three years ago. He’d make more appeal over further and this probably isn’t the pace setup to bring about a career best from him so expect to see him staying on well but maybe only finishing into 5th or 6th. If he drops a few pounds he’s one to look out for over 2m on a sound surface.

Nicholas T

An absolute credit to connections and he’s taken his form to a new level this season winning the Northumberland Plate on his first run beyond 13f. That win came off just a 2lb lower mark so he’s not handicapped out of this but he does need to bounce back from some lesser runs. His run in the John Smith’s Cup wasn’t dreadful considering he was poorly placed how it was run, then a mile at Ayr wouldn’t have suited next time out. He went up a full mile in trip last time out at York and ran pretty badly but he was unruly before hand and that can’t be completely held against him.

The form of his wins haven’t really worked out and his form seems to have dropped off but he is capable of bouncing back. I just wonder whether he might be a better bet at Ayr later this month, a course where he has won seven times in the past.

The Trader

All his wins and all but one of his placed efforts have come on good or better ground so the fact that his last five runs have come on ground ranging between soft and good to soft suggest he should improve here on a sounder surface. On his last start on good to firm he won, beating Hochfeld into 2nd, and The Trader is a further 1lb better off here. That is the only time The Trader has gone beyond 1m4f on fast ground so whilst he has to prove himself over the extra furlong here (that win came at 1m5f), he is unexposed as a stayer.

Assuming he bounces back to form on better ground, he should get the run of the race here given he is likely to track Hochfeld. He’s a risky proposition, and it’s a concern he’s done all his winning in small fields, but he’s probably overpriced given the likely pace setup.

Sextant

Formerly quite smart for Sir Michael Stoute, he’s largely struggled for Keith Dalgleish. He did put in a much better effort last time out though here in a small field though, a scenario that probably wouldn’t have played to his strengths. He hadn’t run badly at Royal Ascot behind Global Storm in a race not run to suit in fairness and there is every reason to think he’s getting ready to strike off a mark 7lbs lower than his peak rating for his previous yard.

He used to lead early or race prominently but slow starts this season have meant he’s invariably been held up. If they don’t go very fast early here he’d find it easier to recover from a slow start and maybe race in mid division or even more prominently, especially given a fair few of these will likely take a pull. There are certainly worse bets at this sort of price.

The Verdict

A disappointing field for this with no bombproof looking candidates. Scottish trained trio Alright Sunshine, Nicholas T and Sextant are all capable of outrunning their odds and potentially taking this, especially Sextant who is quite tempting.

Assuming it doesn’t rain hard Rhythmic Intent is best avoided and whilst I think Autumn War isn’t to be underestimated, he’s not the most willing in a finish so he’s possibly one to back place only, for all he’s not a terrible each way bet by any means.

Autumn War appeals as the best value place bet in this but the best value win bet could be THE TRADER. If you excuse his recent form on account of the ground he comes here 2lbs lower than his last winning mark (this season) and he’s likely to be well placed off what will probably be a fairly steady gallop. He’s got the speed for shorter but should stay this far (proven over nearly this trip). He's worth chancing for win purposes but could just as easily bomb out so perhaps isn’t an each way proposition.

Choose Excellency As Value Bet In Live Beverley Contest

Largely smaller fields than we normally get on a Saturday and for me, the race of most interest is the Silver Cup at Beverley, due off at 2.05pm. This is a 10f handicap for 3yos only. The weather forecast looks dry so this race should be run on ground the fast side of good.

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Pace

The draw shouldn’t have much of an impact here given the small field but there is every reason to think pace will still be a very important factor.

There are some fairly strong pace biases at Beverley over shorter trips and even at this 10f distance there is still a bias towards those ridden nearer the pace.

We have a reliable sample size here in smaller fields and the data shows that early leaders have a 24% win strike rate and 51.2% place percentage. That’s some way clear of the 14.04% win percentage and 36.09% place percentage for prominent racers and the figures for mid division and held up make for even worse reading. There is clearly a strong bias towards early pace over this course and distance.

Unless there is likely to be a strong early gallop in this race then those that race nearer the speed should certainly be marked up. The pace map will tell us more about this.

Pace Map

Here is the pace map for this race.

The two Mark Johnston runners are likely to dominate early in this, both tending to enjoy leading. It’s possible they could take each other on and set this up for something a bit more patiently ridden but given they are from the same stable you’d imagine team tactics will be agreed and they’ll perhaps dispute the lead at a reasonable pace with no other likely front runners in here.

The majority of the rest of the field tend to be patiently ridden. Life On The Rocks was prominent very early last time out but soon lost place and was in a distant last place after a few furlongs.

No Recollection is tactically versatile so his early position is probably most difficult to predict out of the whole field.

Jockey Course Record

Given tactics are likely to be so important in this race it’s worth taking a look at jockey performance at Beverley from the past five years.

The top jockey in terms of A/E and IV is Stefano Cherchi. He’s not the most experienced around here but he’s clearly adapted well to the course and he seems a good jockey booking for Farhan. The only jockey who has had fewer rides here is Tom Marquand but he has ridden a winner here before.

Ben Curtis has ridden more winners here than any of the other jockeys in the past five years. He’s closely followed by Paul Hanagan but that pair have clearly also had the most opportunities.

Paddy Mathers and P J Mcdonald have seemingly underperformed which could be a concern for Life On The Rocks and also the well fancied Barn Owl.

The Runners

Here’s a look at the seven runners, in early odds order.

Barn Owl

Looked like a return to further would suit on his penultimate start at Sandown so it was perhaps a little disappointing he could ‘only’ manage second place at Ripon last time out in a five runner race. In fairness the ground was probably softer than ideal on that occasion and he's worth another try at that distance.

He’s still lightly raced, has finished 2nd in both handicap starts to date and gave 5lbs and a short head to a runner now rated 85 in a novice race earlier this season meaning he looks well handicapped off 84 here but there is a suspicion this trip might be on the short side for him. First time cheekpieces go on which may sharpen him up but he’s probably not one to take a shortish price about.

Titian

William Haggas won this last year with the smart Ilaraab (also had the runner up two years ago) and he bids to repeat that feat with seasonal debutant Titian. He shed his maiden tag in September in a Newcastle novice and followed that up with a respectable third in a Doncaster nursery off a 1lb lower mark. That nursery form has worked out respectably enough so there is every chance he begins his 3yo campaign on a good mark but there is an issue.

Titian ran well on racecourse debut on soft ground and followed that up with a disappointing effort on fast ground at Goodwood, well beaten at 9/4. He won on the all weather and then ran well in his nursery race on good to soft. The evidence points to him being better on softer ground, just like his dam was. On faster ground here, off an absence, he's opposable.

Farhan

He's more exposed than many of these but he’s run to a fair level of form so far. He won last year at the fifth attempt, taking a 10f novice at Pontefract on soft ground like a horse with a future over staying trips. Given that effort he put in a very encouraging seasonal reappearance at Salisbury on good ground, going down by just a short head to No Recollection, who reopposes here 3lbs better off.

That run again suggested Farhan may be better over further, although he would have won on that day had he not made a mess of the start (missed the break by several lengths). A step up to 12f failed to bring about improvement next time at York though. He ran a fair race in 4th in a warm handicap, possibly finding the fastish ground slightly against him.

He missed the next 83 days but put in a good return at Sandown three weeks ago, finishing runner up back down at this trip. He showed a little more early speed that day, perhaps because he was running on the slowest ground he had encountered all season, and got within a neck of the winner. He’ll win a race before the season is out on testing ground over 10f or even over 12f but he is likely to find things happening too quickly here assuming the ground is faster than good.

Life On The Rocks

Richard Fahey has won this twice in the past five years and he’s solely represented by Life On The Rocks here. All three of his runs last year were at a mile, on fast ground, for Kevin Ryan. He ended the season with a 2nd, beaten less than a length, by Tribal Art, who won just this week off a mark of 82, making Life On The Rocks’ mark of 76 looks fairly lenient, especially as he looked like he’d improve as a 3yo over further throughout last season.

He didn’t reappear this year until two weeks ago, having moved stables in the interim, but once again ran well in defeat finishing 3rd off this mark. He was last of all after a couple of furlongs despite breaking well but flew home late. If he didn’t handle the track then that was an excellent run off a lay off. If he’s a bit quirky now and doesn’t give his all early on then he’s going to struggle around here. If he’s able to hold a handy position this time around he could run very well but there are a few unknowns.

March Law

The most lightly raced runner in the field and another that hasn’t run this season. Ben Curtis has ridden the winner of this race for the past two years and he’s booked for the ride. He was a good 2nd to Battleground in the Chesham Stakes last year at Royal Ascot, with that runner winning a Group 2 on his next start. March Law followed that up winning a soft ground novice at just 2/9, scrambling home by a nose in a two runner race.

He’s likely to be advantaged by the run of the race here but he’s obviously had an issue or two and the fact that his best form has come on soft ground is another concern. Maybe one to monitor in the betting, especially in relation to his stablemate.

No Recollection

Handicapped to finish ahead of Farhan on the bare form of their meeting earlier this season but given Farhan started very slowly that day that’s probably not the case. His form has tailed off since then so it’s probably no surprise that connections have had him gelded since his latest disappointment. Given he’s trained by Alan King, that decision may have also been made with a hurdling career in mind.

His early season handicap form would give him a fair chance here, he was 3rd to Mohaafeth in April, receiving just 6lbs from a runner that has subsequently rated 27lbs higher. His run style may or may not be an issue here. He led early when beating Farhan but he’s often been held up too. On his last two tries at this trip he has led and tracked the pace so there is a good chance he’s prominent early.

Mr Excellency

The field is completed by Mr Excellency, a second runner for Mark Johnston. He won his first two starts at this trip, making all in both, before perhaps finding softer ground against him at Glorious Goodwood. A 2lb rise for his most recent win certainly shouldn’t have been enough for him to be beat 23 lengths on his next start.

He’s still unbeaten at this trip on fast ground and his first win over this distance worked out pretty well. The runner up won on his next start, the 3rd met trouble in running and found a sedate gallop against him on his next start but still ran creditably and the 4th has finished 2nd since (this week). He’s 6lbs higher here which is fair and he proved that run was no fluke when following up next time, albeit in a very small field.

The Verdict

Barn Owl probably wants further, Titian and Farhan probably want softer, as may March Law. Two of those are also returning from layoffs. This suggests there might be a bit of value lurking lower down in this race, especially with a potential pace bias looking likely.

Life On The Rocks looks fairly treated and could/should improve on his latest outing. If he finds himself in last place after a couple of furlongs again though it will probably be curtains for him so he’s probably just one to watch, or to back in running if well placed after a few furlongs.

No Recollection isn’t out of this if bouncing back to form after a gelding operation but it’s possible he ends up being held up by choice and he does need to return to his earlier season form. He’s not ruled out but is risky.

MR EXCELLENCY also comes with some risk after his last run but it’s entirely possible that effort was solely down to the ground and his yard’s runners often have no problem bouncing back to form after a poor run. If leading he could get a big advantage here – you’d have to think the stable instructions will be for the two Johnston runners NOT to cut each other’s throats at the head of affairs early on. Assuming he doesn’t go off too hard he looks far too big a price as the outsider of the field.

It might be a slight concern that Ben Curtis would appear to have chosen the stablemate but it’s worth noting Connor Beasley is 3 from 7 when riding for Mark Johnston at Beverley. Curtis on the other hand is just 2 from 9.

Ebor Handicap 2021 Preview and Tips: Away He Goes Ticks All The Boxes

It’s quality not quantity as far as the live races on Saturday are concerned and as I’m a big handicap fan the choice seems to be the Melrose or the Ebor, both run over the same course and distance. I love a 3yo stayer but there are just too many unknowns in the Melrose with so many lightly raced runners meaning it’s the big one, the Ebor Handicap, that I’ll be previewing this week.

The race is due off at 3.35pm and as usual it will be run over York’s 1m6f course. There are 22 runners (plus reserves) to go through and hopefully the race will be run on good to firm ground. There is rain forecast on Saturday but the vast majority is likely to fall after the race and after racing finishes as things stand. This of course could change between now and Saturday though.

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Draw

The effect of the draw on round course races can sometimes be overlooked, and sometimes overestimated, where do you want to be drawn over this course and distance?

Not much between the win figures but slightly against convention the place percentages and PRB figures suggest low is slightly disadvantaged with a considerably lower place percentage compared to middle and high and a slightly worse PRB score than the higher draws.

This is something that should be investigated further with the individual stall data.

It’s worth noting that eight of the best nine individual stall PRB figures belong to double figure draws with 16, 18, 19 and 20 filling the top four positions. This would suggest the higher the draw the better.

Stalls 2, 3, 4, 5 and 7 are all amongst the poorer performers with PRB figures between 0.47 and 0.39.

Stalls 1 and 20 have both previously won this race so you can clearly win from anywhere and no draw should be written off but slight preference would be for something drawn in the top half of the draw, all other things being equal.

Pace

The shorter trips here favour early pace, what about this distance?

Quite the opposite when it comes to the 1m6f distance here with hold up performers bossing it in terms of both win percentage and place percentage. The place percentages suggest there isn’t much between mid division and front running with prominent coming out worse of all with a place percentage that is three times worse than that for the most patiently ridden types.

It’s not impossible to make all here but it’s pretty clear that on fast ground it will be difficult to dominate and in most cases those that are held up and delivered late may have a distinct advantage.

The individual pace make up of each race will obviously have an impact on this but granted an even to strong early gallop the best value could be gained from hold up performers in this race.

Ebor Handicap 2021 Pace Map

Here is the pace map for the 2021 running of the Ebor Handicap at York.

There clearly isn’t going to be an extremely strong pace in this with just one recognised front runner (Mt Leinster) but Makawee has led in two of his last three starts (was held up on his penultimate run making his average run style look slightly less prominent). Max Vega is another who has led in two of his last three runs so there should be no shortage of pace and at the very least we’ll likely get an even gallop that could give a slight edge to the runners that are held up.

Draw and Pace Combination

With such a big field here we could witness some micro advantages within the usual draw and pace biases so the draw and pace combination heat map will help highlight those.

What this heat map tells us that front runners are best served by a middle draw with prominent racers doing best from a low draw (but not doing well in general). Low draws that race in mid division seem to perform extremely poorly but they do much better from middle to low draws and the draw doesn’t seem to matter at all if you are held up.

So whilst a low draw had seemed a slight disadvantage according to the draw data, this helps highlight that it is no disadvantage at all if you are going to be held up but the stats aren’t good for all other run types with low draws.

The Runners

Here are the runners for the 2021 Ebor Handicap, in early odds order:

Live Your Dream *FIRST RESERVE*

The ante post favourite for this isn’t guaranteed a run, he needs one to come out. Quite a few of the field would prefer rain so maybe he’ll get a run but most entries are going to want to see how early Saturday’s rain turns up which could count against him.

On form he has obvious claims having bolted up in an uncompetitive Wolverhampton handicap before winning a 15 runner heritage handicap over this trip at Newmarket at the July Festival. That looks pretty solid form, even if it hasn’t worked out particularly well, and he can’t really be crabbed for beating everything he’s come up against comfortably at this trip or further.

Sonnyboyliston

Yet to race on faster than good but his better form has come on better ground so there should be no issues with underfoot conditions. One of his most interesting pieces of form is his 4.25 length victory at the Curragh 11 months ago which worked out well and that effort suggests he was more well in than the 9lb higher mark he now runs off.

His form has been slightly underwhelming this season though for one of his rating. He won a pretty poor listed race in June over 12f and his two runs over further haven’t particularly advertised his claims for this – he was behind three of these rivals last time out over course and distance including Roberto Escobar who he has to give weight to here.

Hamish

Still lightly raced and certainly a horse to be interested in given he won twice over course and distance in 2019 before being beaten just a neck by subsequent group 1 winner Trueshan off level weights. He only managed one run last season though, which was an eyecatching run at Royal Ascot.

His form is top notch and he’s certainly capable of proving better than his handicap mark of 108 but he hasn’t been seen for 428 days and on top of that he’d prefer softer ground by all accounts, for all he has won on good to firm here previously. In these big handicaps you tend to get one horse who shortens dramatically just before the off and Hamish looks like that sort of runner. Either way he's certainly one to watch in the market, even if he is already well found.

Ilaraab

Likes it here as he’s won both starts on the Knavesmire but he’s pretty ground dependent (was withdrawn on good ground last time out). He beat an okay field by 3 lengths here in May off a mark of 102 which was a smart effort but he seemed to have his limitations exposed somewhat next time out at Royal Ascot in deeper company. The return to this venue may suit but he’ll want plenty of rain and he still has to prove himself over this trip.

Mt Leinster

The sole runner for Willie Mullins, who had several well fancied entries at the five day stage. He’s only had four runs on the flat producing form figures of 1211. In September last year he beat 101 rated Cape Gentleman in a listed contest by 5 lengths so the fact he runs off 102 here is interesting, especially as he was giving Cape Gentleman 11lbs that day.

He certainly looks well handicapped but he hasn’t been seen for 314 days and there has to be a ground concern as all his wins have come on soft ground and he’s been beaten all seven times he’s raced on anything better (even yielding). Yet another that will likely want rain.

Tribal Craft

He's been running very well this term and a 2 length defeat at the hands of Wonderful Tonight last time out at Goodwood is certainly no disgrace, even in receipt of 3lbs. That effort means he’s 4lbs well in here but once again, he’s one of those that surely wants rain having been kept to soft ground all season. Ignoring a three runner novice race win he’s been beaten in all eight runs that have come on good to soft or faster.

Fujaira Prince

Last year’s winner has only had one run this season so far and it was a fair 3rd over course and distance in listed company, leaving the impression he’d come on for the run. His win in this last year came on soft and he does prefer cut in the ground but he’s run well on good to firm and good ground previously, in fact he’s run well everytime he’s reached a racecourse given he’s yet to finish out of the first 3 in all 11 starts.

He’s up 6lbs from last year’s win which doesn’t rule him out and this has surely been the plan all season. He followed up last year’s victory with a 2nd place in the Irish St Leger so he’s clearly very useful but he could end up finding a couple better handicapped.

Mirann

Plenty of solid form in the book and stays the trip. Only 1lb higher than a decent 4th at Royal Ascot in the Duke Of Edinburgh Handicap. The ground could be a problem though. If it stay fast then he’s unproven on it and his best form is on softer. If it does soften then there are almost certainly better handicapped runners with give in the ground.

Away He Goes

He's 2lbs well in following a career best 2nd in the Goodwood Cup. That effort came on soft ground but his previous three wins have been on much faster ground so he could be capable of better yet, especially as he’s not fully exposed after 15 runs so far (only 4 of those have been at further than 12f).

He has work to do with a couple of these based on his run in the Silver Cup Stakes here but a bigger field and stronger pace will be in his favour and he’s not to be underestimated, for all he might be even better over 2 miles than this trip. Drawn extremely wide but that’s not necessarily a disadvantage.

Humanitarian

Another one that comes here off an absence, Humanitarian hasn’t been seen since winning over 12f at Newbury 11 months ago. That win came off a 455 day break meaning he’s had just the one run in the past 26 months. He’s seemingly one of the few that wants the rain to stay away here and he’s proven he can run well after a long break already. The horse he beat last time out, Dubai Future, has subsequently rated 11lbs higher and Humanitarian runs off just a 4lb higher mark here. He’s unproven over this trip but oth his runs at 12f suggest he’ll stay.

Quickthorn

Mudlark who won back to back races on testing ground earlier this season before finding things happening too quickly on good ground in the Silver Cup Stakes when behind several of these. He was poorly in at the weights that day and would be capable of a bold showing on soft or heavy here given his profile but it’s hard to see the ground softening enough in time for him. Something like the Old Borough Cup at Haydock (usually run on testing ground) would be a suitable target after this.

Roberto Escobarr

Very lightly raced still and a 4 length defeat of Matthew Flinders last season (rated just 1lb inferior to Roberto Escobarr now) suggests he could be well handicapped still. He’s 2 from 4 here at York, has won his only start on good to firm (beating a subsequent listed winner) and ran well last time out in the Silver Cup Stakes just half a length behind Fujaira Prince who he now gets 7lbs from. Roberto Escobarr was well placed in that contest but he does look decent value here.

Shanroe

A handicap winner over this trip last time out on good ground which took his flat record to 3 from 5. He’s won on soft ground but he’s also run several good races on good ground so underfoot conditions shouldn’t bother him. The handicap he won in October over this distance off an 18lb lower mark worked out well, which you’d hope for given his subsequent rise in the weights, plus the form of his latest win is pretty solid too. Very few negatives and he’s at the right end of the weights to progress further.

Alounak

Not the most consistent but he’s come good on his last two starts and he’s shaping as though worth trying over this trip. He seems pretty reliant on very soft ground though and the form of his Old Borough Cup win hasn’t really worked out so he could be vulnerable whatever the ground.

Global Storm

Slightly surprising to see him available at twice the price of Live Your Dream given they were separated by less than a length at Newmarket with Global Storm now 3lbs better off. His better form has generally come at Newmarket but it’s also generally come with a bit of cut in the ground too so if the ground was to ease even slightly he might have better claims of reversing that form. Global Storm did prove himself away from Newmarket when placing at Royal Ascot and given his consistent profile there will certainly be worse each way bets out there.

On To Victory

Won last year’s November Handicap in testing conditions and ran extremely well to get as close to Hukum as he did at Goodwood in May, surely running above his rating of 104. It was therefore a bit underwhelming that he was only 5th off this mark last time out in a handicap at that same venue when getting his ground again. Three of his four wins have come on soft, the other came on good to soft, so he needs rain to be at his best and he needs to improve on that latest run but he has a chance on his best efforts and Saffie Osbourne claims a useful 5lbs.

Pablo Escobarr

Runs against his full brother Roberto Escobarr here, who seems to have a decent chance if the rain stays away until after the race. Unsurprisingly he seems to have a similar going preference to his brother and he seems to have a similar level of ability too. He was rated 5lbs higher last year and hasn’t been the most consistent but he’s probably been campaigned with this in mind and should be cherry ripe now.

He was quite well fancied for this race last year but the ground went against him and connections have been playing with different headgear since. Cheekpieces go back on here for the first time since he was a good 3rd in a listed race over an inadequate trip last year and he’s been shaping as though this sort of trip and big field could be what he wants. Not very reliable but probably overpriced if the rain stays away.

Euchen Glen

A credit to connections who is extremely versatile. He put in a rare below par effort last time which is a slight concern but more of a concern is the fact that he’s 15lbs higher than when winning last year’s Old Borough Cup and 14lbs higher than when 5th in this race last year.

Blue Cup

A slightly frustrating sort who finally came good at Epsom in June when winning by a wide margin and he backed that up with a decent effort in the Wolferton at Royal Ascot when 4th. He ran less well last time out at Newbury and he’s on a stiff enough mark now having gone up 16lbs since his last win and this trip isn’t one he’s sure to see out.

Eagles By Day

Just one win outside of maiden company but it did come over course and distance on good ground in last season’s Silver Cup Stakes. He’s been highly tried since but without any success and in all probability his mark flatters him. He’s only had one run this season, perhaps by design, but he’s got plenty to find.

Makawee

A regular at this venue with a total of eight runs here and he generally seems to run her race with form figures of 15220333. She got 5lbs and an almost 3 length beating from Roberto Escobarr over course and distance earlier this season and is unlikely to reverse that form on these terms.

Max Vega

Still lightly raced and he’s looked better on softer ground to date. With that in mind he didn’t run too badly on seasonal debut on good ground in the Silver Cup Stakes behind several of these given he was poorly positioned, may have needed the run and would have find the surface lively enough. He was 2.25 lengths behind Away He Goes for example and he'll get 5lbs from him here.

Unfortunately if the rain comes and the ground goes in his favour this probably become a more competitive race and he could get found out still. On good to soft he’d represent fair value though.

Mekong

Not the force he was for Sir Michael Stoute and hasn’t really run to form since early last year. Difficult to see him bouncing back in such a competitive race.

The Verdict

A tremendously tricky puzzle to solve, complicated further by the possibility of the ground slowly easing throughout the day. At the time of writing this rain is likely to hit towards the end of the card (and after) so the race being run on ground softer than good seems unlikely for now. That would be a negative for the likes of Ilaraab, Mt Leinster, Mirann, Tribal Craft, Alounak, Quickthorn, On To Victory and Max Vega, amongst others. That’s almost half the field plus Fujaira Prince, Hamish and Global Storm would prefer the rains to come, even if they have run well on faster ground before.

Hamish in particular is very interesting still. He’s been extremely consistent to date on the racecourse and has even proven he can run well off this sort of absence before. He’s still a risky proposition though given the absence and the ground so unless there is sustained market support he’s probably not one to get too involved in at the price.

If the ground does stay on the fast side then Live Your Dream, Sonnyboyliston, Humanitarian, Away He Goes, Roberto Escobarr, and Pablo Escobarr should all run well. Humanitarian is very interesting and like Hamish, he’s proved himself off an absence before but still plenty has to be taken on trust. The Escobarr brothers are probably overpriced but neither are particularly reliable.

The Silver Cup Stakes could be a key bit of form for this given six of these ran in the race and the pick of those could be AWAY HE GOES. He seems a better horse with a run under his belt so should improve beyond several of those in that race (he doesn't have to improve much to beat Sonnyboyliston on these terms). He’s completely unexposed as a stayer, ran a career best last time out, will enjoy the big field scenario and he’s run well on fast and soft ground so for those of us having an early bet on the race he’s a safe candidate. On his last handicap run, earlier this year, he was runner up off an 8lb lower mark, beaten less than a length behind a horse that was 11lbs well in who enjoyed the run of the race more than Away He Goes, who in hindsight was also running over an inadequate trip. He’s officially 2lbs well in here but could still have more in hand than that. He's only a suggestion though in such a difficult race.

Great St Wilfrid 2021 Preview and Tips: Course Specialist Can Strike Again

Some very, very good racing to look forward to at York next week but for now we must tackle one of the live contests on ITV this weekend. The big field races are largely coming at Ripon in the Great St Wilfrid and also the consolation race. Both races are maximum 20 runner fields and it’s the big one itself that looks slightly more interesting, at 3.10pm.

Amazingly, for once we have a clear weather forecast meaning we know what ground to expect. It’s good at the moment and usually well watered so might not get much faster before the off.

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I think we are going to see some quite strong biases for this one…

Draw

Is it going to be low, middle or high for this big sprint handicap?

There is only a relatively small sample size here but I’m keen to keep the filters as they are for this. On softer ground there can be much more of a bias towards the higher drawn horses so that could skew the data for likely going conditions on Saturday. I also don’t want to reduce the number of runners as the fewer runners there are, the further the lower numbers will be from the far side rail.

So on to the data sample we are presented with. More winners come from the middle but we’re not really concerned about the winners here as it’s a small sample. The place data suggests Low and middle have the edge (very little in it) but the PRB data, which makes the most of our small sample as every runner contributes to this metric, has low out in front at 0.54 with middle and high both slightly disadvantaged at 0.48.

So how can low draws be best if the last five winners of this race have been drawn 17, 15, 19,10 and 13 and the last five winners of the consolation race have been drawn 18, 14, 20, 20 and 16? That looks like a real bias AGAINST the low draws.

Winners are a small sample but it looks like a high draw is best from this more recent data. Even if you look at the sample of races used above but only from 2016 the PRBs for low and high are still both the same (0.52).

When the data doesn’t quite make sense it’s best to watch some course and distance races back. The last time this race was run on good ground was 2018 and in the consolation race they all came stands’ side (high) with stall 14 winning on the rail and stall 1 finishing runner up despite tracking across the course. In the main race they split into two groups and although stall 19 was successful (once again on the near side rail), the 2nd and 3rd were drawn 7 and 4 and raced on the far side.

The previous year this meeting was also run on good ground. In the consolation they split into two groups with stall 20 winning on the rail (yet again), pulling clear with stall 17 and after that pair it was pretty even between the two sides. In the main event that year they split into two groups and the winner was stall 10, who went far side, but there was again very little between the two groups.

So what my eyes are telling me, admittedly from a small (but very relevant) sample, is that they’ll probably split into two groups, being bang on the near side (high) rail usually leads to a strong performance and if they do split into two groups there can often be very little between the two sides.

Based on what I’ve seen I’m expecting the individual stall data to show that very high draws do well, very low draws do pretty well and the middle performs less well.

The four best individual stalls for PRB are 17, 4, 7 and 18. That means two of the highest four stalls are in the top four best stalls. Stall 20 performs less well for PRB but it’s the most successful stall for win percentage with 2 winners from just 8 runners. The most wins have come from stall 4.

Most of those stalls mentioned above were pretty high or pretty low and the PRB3 line graph below the table shows a spike in performance amongst the highest few stalls and also a strong performance from the lowest six stalls.

Lots to weigh up there but it seems the near side (high numbers) are more likely to be advantaged than far side (low numbers) but in all probability there will be very little between the two sides. Being drawn nearer to either rail looks an advantage but nothing can be 100% ruled in or out solely because of the draw.

Pace

Ripon is often a front runner’s track, will that be reflected in the data?

I’m happier to relax the filters a little for pace compared to draw in order to get more data and we see a pretty strong bias here.

A huge 30 of the 36 winners have been front runners or prominent racers. Prominent racers perform best of all for win purposes but front runners have the best place percentage (33.78%) compared to prominent (27.04%). Once again returns for those more patiently ridden drop quite dramatically with a place percentage of 15.31% for mid division and 14.69% for held up.

I said I wouldn’t completely rule anything out because of the draw but I would be very reluctant to back anything that isn’t going to be close to the pace in this. Generally speaking, in 16+ runner sprint handicaps, there will be plenty of pace angles but the pace is still holding up well here.

Great St Wilfrid Handicap Pace Map

Plenty of pace angles in this so they could go fairly hard early on and many could be well placed. Given the amount of pace angles it could pay to be handy rather than an out and out front runner.

The quickest of these early on could be Mr Wagyu who has been hugely progressive this season. He’s all pace and should lead overall early. He’s drawn in the middle though so you can’t be sure which side he will go.

Pace and Draw Combination

With some strong pace biases on show and draw biases in the mix too the draw and pace combination heat map should make for interesting reading.

Slightly surprisingly the best pace and draw combination is leading but leading from the middle. This is perhaps the best way to get a good early position from what is probably not a good draw in most cases.

Middle drawn, patiently ridden runners do very poorly and it seems it’s easier to make up ground when drawn low rather than high. It’s difficult to pinpoint why that might be but it often seems that slightly more runners go near side (high) than far side (low) when the fields split. This would mean hold up performers could meet more traffic on the near side (high) than the far side (low) giving lower drawn hold ups a clearer run more often than not.

The Runners

Here are the runners for the 2021 Great St Wilfrid Handicap, in early odds order.

Staxton

Made all on the near side rail in this last year on good to soft ground. He’s won his last three visits to this venue, including on good to firm in April, and his overall form figures here read 235111. When 5th he was still 2nd in his group. This year he is drawn in stall 8 which might be a little more central than ideal.

He clearly goes very well at this venue, it’s just a question of handicap mark and current form. He followed up his last course and distance win with a couple of lacklustre runs but then he was 4th, not getting a clear run, in a very strong renewal of the Scottish Stewards’ Cup (winner won the Goodwood Stewards’ Cup, 3rd won the consolation race, runner up was beaten a short head next time in a hot York handicap). He’s now 1lb lower than that effort and 1lb higher than his last win here so he’s clearly very feasibly handicapped. He ran just about okay in the Stewards’ Cup consolation race last time out in soft ground, that run was largely in line with most of his recent soft ground form.

He’s clearly got a lot going for him, his draw is probably the biggest negative but it can certainly be overcome.

Mr Wagyu

He was 7 lengths ahead of Staxton at Goodwood when winning the Stewards’ consolation race but he was only half a length ahead in the Scottish Stewards’ Cup and Staxton is now a full 12lbs better off. He’s got a great run style for this course but has run poorly here on his last three visits, to counter that though he won his previous two runs here before that so he clearly handles the course. The suspicion is he is going to struggle to confirm form with Staxton here with this course playing to that rival’s strengths perfectly.

Soul Seeker

He's won his last two races but both of those runs, and his two other wins, came at 5f. He’s quite tactically versatile and you couldn’t be too sure how he’ll be ridden but with the step up in distance in mind he could be ridden a little more patiently than usual and that might not suit this course as well. He’s capable of further progress but probably at the minimum trip.

Music Society

He's been progressing nicely and he was beaten just a nose in the hot Scottish Stewards’ Cup but he’s now 8lbs higher here. He’s only 4lbs higher than when beaten a short head at York and isn’t completely handicapped out of this but the biggest problem could be his run style. He likes to be held up and that’s probably why he’s without a win in three attempts here.

Lampang

Certainly not the most consistent and added a slow start to his resume last time out in the Stewards’ Cup (ran okay given his start). He’s tactically versatile when he breaks on terms and did win easily on his only visit here (odds on in a novice) but he’s not really reliable enough to justify his place in the market. He is three from four on turf away from soft ground though and was found to be coughing on his one flop so is potentially interesting on that basis.

Lincoln Park

Another likely pace angle, his last three turf wins have all come at Chester and he seems ideally suited to both that course and ground with plenty of cut in it. He shouldn’t get his ground, has been beaten in all twelve runs when rated 86 or higher (rated 88) here and looks a bit too short.

Boardman

Won three races with ease earlier this season but those wins came at 7f and he’s paid for that with his handicap mark. He’s probably looked more out of form than in the grip of the handicapper on his last two runs which is quite worrying and the drop back in trip isn’t guaranteed to suit, certainly at this course where his run style won’t be favoured.

Embour

He's certainly competitive from this kind of mark as he won off a 3lb higher mark on seasonal debut. He also ran well enough last time out when only beaten just over a length, not suited by a speed test over a furlong shorter at Musselburgh. His prominent racing style should suit this course (never run here before) but all his wins have come in far less competitive races than this and he’ll likely be vulnerable in this company, for all he could run well enough. Minor places might be a good result for him.

Gale Force Maya

Yet another who is often near the early pace and she was beaten just half a length here last time out, albeit in much easier race than this. She’s looked in the grip of the handicapper since winning at Doncaster in April, she’s been beaten off this mark of 92 in all five runs since.

Intrinsic Bond

Went backwards in the spring after a promising seasonal debut but everything came together when winning easily at Catterick two starts ago. Proved this sort of mark isn’t beyond him when beaten just a neck here last time (just ahead of Gale Force Maya), not seen to best effect held up. He made the running when winning at Catterick and a return to more forceful tactics would be a big help here but he might want a little bit of cut in the ground to be very competitive at this level.

Mokaatil

A three time winner this season and still 14lbs lower than his career high mark. He had nothing in hand last time out though and all his wins this season have been at this minimum distance and he’ll likely prove vulnerable back up at 6f.

Mr Lupton

A very in and out sort, summed up by winning a competitive handicap at York three runs ago (often runs well there) followed by barely beating a rival in two starts since. Difficult to catch right and won’t be as well suited by this venue as many others.

Soldier’s Minute

Goes very well at Kempton and York and no reason why this course shouldn’t suit. He’s still 2lbs above his last winning turf mark despite a losing run of 13 on the surface. He’s been in poor form so far this season and is perhaps being laid out for the Ayr Gold Cup if anything (has run well in defeat in the last two renewals).

Golden Apollo

Everything looked in place for a big run at York two starts ago so it was disappointing he could only manage a 6th behind Music Society. He followed that up with an equally disappointing 7th at Doncaster, not running terribly but still never looking like winning. He ran okay in this last year considering his run style doesn’t really suit the course and he met trouble in running but he’s going to have to improve plenty on recent showings to overcome a likely pace bias.

Abate

Disappointed at York a few starts ago but bounced back from that with two wins, both in small fields. Those wins have cost him a 10lb rise in the weights though and he was put in his place last time out off a 1lb lower mark. Runs off a career high mark and doesn’t look well enough handicapped to figure.

Brad The Brief

Needs to find improvement based on both handicap runs to date, for all the last one came a year ago. He’s paid for a heavy ground Group 3 win in France and hasn’t been in much form this year so difficult to see him bouncing back on faster ground. Another that should be up there early.

Manigordo

Sprang a shock when winning at 25/1 at Thirsk in April and has largely struggled since, although he ran a decent 2nd a month ago at Redcar. That was in a much less competitive race than this and he’s run poorly again since. He’s shown he can bounce back from poor runs but he’s inconsistent and even his best form probably leaves him with something to find here.

Justanotherbottle

He's all pace and has only ever won at shorter trips. Well enough beaten on his last two starts and will need to bounce back to form (and find extra stamina reserves) in first time blinkers.

Muscika

Talented but hard to get right. He’s run well here on several occasions in the past without winning in six attempts. Well handicapped on several pieces of form, even this season, but he should have been able to run better at York last time and he’s not one for maximum faith. Wouldn’t be a complete shock if he did run well though.

Illusionist

He hasn’t been at his best on his last three starts but he has run as though in form, he just needs much softer ground. He’s still unexposed at this trip but the ground will probably be fast enough here and he’s one to look out for when the rains return after he’s dropped a few more pounds.

The Verdict

Not many I fancy here to be honest and I’m struggling to make a case for any at bigger prices. Golden Apollo will enjoy the pace setup and has run well here before but seeing him ending his losing run here seems unlikely. He may end up doing best of the hold up horses though.

The form picks at this distance surely have to be Mr Wagyu, Music Society and Staxton. This trio were all in the first four in the hot Scottish Stewards’ Cup and whilst Mr Wagyu and Music Society have advertised that form since, and paid for it in the handicap, STAXTON finds himself running off a 1lb lower mark and should have few problems reversing that form with these two rivals, especially at ‘his’ track.

He was held up in that race, which wouldn’t suit here, but he’s been ridden prominently in every other start this season and in all runs here at Ripon so expect to see him handy here. He doesn’t need to lead, and probably doesn’t want to with all these front runners in the line up, so chasing the leaders will be optimal. He can go either side from his draw, so if the consolation race 35 minutes earlier suggests near side is the place to be he’s not committed to going far side from stall 8. We’ve seen in the past that even those on the ‘wrong’ side still often place so whichever side he goes he should have few problems placing at the very least making him a very solid each way bet, even as ‘short’ as 7/1.

Shergar Cup 2021 Tips and Preview

Let’s get this out there early – I like the Shergar Cup…

I couldn’t care less about which team of jockeys win but we are presented with six races, all with ten runners so they aren’t too hard to figure out and most races tend to be 3/1 or 4/1 the field so the majority tend to be backable prices.

The twist of course is the jockeys but in every race we should account for the quality of the jockeys. If you think a particular jockey isn’t of the required quality to back you can handicap the horses accordingly. Most years you can probably rule two or three of the ten runners out simply because the jockey has never ridden the course, ridden right handed, etc.

This year the jockey choices are very ‘safe’. The Rest of the World team includes Sean Levey, Andrea Atzeni and Kevin Stott who are hardly strangers to Ascot. The only real wildcard jockey selection seems to be Mickaelle Michel, a 26 year old French rider who has joined the Ladies Team. To be honest I’m not particularly familiar with her skills but you’d think the majority of the jockeys who are riding here week in, week out might have a slight edge on her.

I’m going to change the format of these previews this week and go through all of the races at the Shergar Cup, but in slightly less detail than usual. Hopefully I’ll be able to demonstrate that it can be a punter friendly card!

Unfortunately it is yet another weekend where we are playing guess the going due to an uncertain weather forecast. At the time of writing the ground is good but there are thunderstorms coming. It doesn’t look like a substantial amount is forecast so I’m going to assume good ground, maybe just on the easy side. If anything handles good and slightly softer that would be ideal.

Shergar Cup Preview and Tips

12.50 – Shergar Cup Dash – 5f

The draw isn’t going to have much of an impact at this meeting with the ten runner fields, especially on the straight course with the stalls positioned in the centre. Pace will have an impact in all races so let’s take a look at the pace map for this one.

The first thing to note here is that two of the pace angles, Mokaatil and First Edition, are both reserves for this race and will only get a run if there are non runners. This means King Of Stars may well get an uncontested early lead. It can be difficult to make all on the straight course at Ascot but it is far easier to do so over the minimum trip so don't write off front runners here. King Of  Stars will be one that wants the rain to stay away and he’s been beaten off 7lb and 5lb lower marks recently on his favoured ground so whilst he should fare better than at Goodwood, he may be unlikely to take advantage of an easy lead.

Count D’Orsay would be fairly interesting if lots of rain came but he’s been disappointing in two trips to Ascot and it’s possible this isn’t his track.

It is certainly Tis Marvellous’ track.

Pretty much all his best form has come here, he was even 4th in last year’s King’s Stand behind Battaash on ground that was a bit softer than ideal. Having run well here in a big field handicap last month on ground that was again slightly softer than ideal (probably similar to how it will ride here) it was disappointing he wasn’t able to add to his Ascot record last time out when the ground was in his favour. There didn’t seem any excuses that day but there has to be a suspicion that wasn’t him at his best. It would be easy to suggest he’s not been at his best this season but on seasonal debut he was just behind Came From The Dark (now rated 7lbs higher), Garrus (now rated 6lbs higher) and King’s Lynn (now 14lbs higher) and that run came away from Tis Marvellous’ beloved Ascot off a 1lb higher mark. The less rain the better his chance.

Stone Of Destiny is capable on his day but predicting which is his day is becoming increasingly difficult. He has a slightly disappointing strike rate for one of his ability and he’s only placed once from six handicap runs on triple figure marks so he’s opposable enough. He ideally needs a very strongly run race.

Tone The Barone has an impressive strike rate and has won twice over course and distance from three attempts. He’s been off since April for an unknown reason but has won off this sort of absence before. He was in decent enough form before his break (won over 5f and then didn’t stay 6f). Goes on good ground but probably wouldn’t too much rain.

Snazzy Jazzy is well served by deep ground and further so his run over 5f at York on good ground in listed company last time has to be considered very promising. This stiffer track will suit but it probably won’t be stiff enough unless they get a lot of rain.

Desert Safari ran twice at Glorious Goodwood and caught the eye on both occasions. The ground was probably a bit softer than ideal when he ran over 5f and then he found 6f a bit far in the Steward’s Cup. He’s not been the most consistent this season but is definitely in form, it’s just a case of catching him on a going day. He is however still completely unexposed at 5f on turf and unbeaten in that scenario away from soft ground (from one run).

Summary

Not the deepest of races and TIS MARVELLOUS ticks an awful lot of boxes. He probably doesn’t need to improve on his last two recent efforts here to take this and he’s tactically flexible. If backing him it may be best to wait until it looks like the ground shouldn't be too bad.

There are a lot of ifs and buts about the rest. Desert Safari and to a slightly lesser extent Stone Of Destiny could go close if on a going day, the former makes more appeal of that pair. Tone The Barone could be a big danger if  fit after a break whilst King Of Stars should run well if there is very little rain.

If it was more testing than expected then perhaps Snazzy Jazzy and Count D'Orsay would be the ones to concentrate on as most of the market fancies seem to want decent ground.

1.25 – Shergar Cup Stayers – 2m

Here’s the pace map for this contest, and there isn’t seemingly a whole lot of pace in this race so it may not be a severe stamina test.

Hochfeld looks most likely to go forward with Call My Bluff potentially happy to track the Mark Johnston runner. It would be no surprise to see this develop into a bit of a sprint finish so a stayer with a bit of speed might be best here.

The two most likely pace angles fit that bill to a certain extent but Hochfeld is inconsistent and his better runs this season haven’t really worked out whilst Call My Bluff will want a lot of rain, potentially more than they get.

Uber Cool looks likely to go off favourite. He returned from a whopping 959 day break at Chester in May with a comfortable victory and a long break since (70 days) has presumably been the plan in an attempt to avoid the dreaded bounce factor. The ground doesn’t seem to bother him whichever way it goes and he’s won an impressive seven of his fourteen starts. He’s 4lbs higher than when beating Elegiac in 2018 and that runner quickly went up 10lbs in the rating so he looks well handicapped from that run. He has been beaten three of the four times he’s raced at two miles or further thought, but he has won over this trip at Goodwood (just held on) and this might not be too much of a stamina test, especially if there isn’t lots of rain.

Island Brave won this race last season but that was a shock, he’s 6lbs higher here and hasn’t been in as good form this season. He was 4th in the Northumberland Plate last time out but that was a different surface and the form hasn’t worked out.

East Asia seemingly improved for the switch to turf this season and won three on the trot on ground ranging from soft to good. He isn’t as good on the all weather so is forgiven a flop at Newcastle next time but he bounced back to form over two furlongs shy of this trip on the fastest ground he’s encountered to date. That was a hotter race than this and he should improve for slightly easier ground and the step back up in trip here. He might not be done winning yet and whilst he should be okay on good ground, any more rain will help him further.

Indianapolis is a horse I selected in these previews a couple of weeks back at Newbury and he ran well enough in fifth given he was given too much to do. A return to a more prominent ride should suit and not only has he won at this meeting before, he was also in good form here two starts ago on good to soft ground and the winner and runner up have both come out of that race and run very well. Might not quite be up to winning but looks likely to be in the shake up.

Summary

Uber Cool is probably the one to beat but he might not want this to be too much of a test and he’s clearly been difficult to train so has become a riskier betting proposition.

I’s rather back either EAST ASIA or Indianapolis each way with the former making a bit more appeal as a likely winner. I respect Uber Cool enough to probably include him in some forecasts and tricasts with the other pair.

Call My Bluff would definitely be considered on good to soft or worse but even then East Asia is just as comfortable on that ground and possibly still better handicapped so an each way bet on the selection seems a safe play.

2.00 – Shergar Cup Challenge – 12f

Another pace map to look at, this time racing over 12f.

Torcello would be the only guaranteed pace here except he’s not guaranteed as he’s 2nd reserve and needs two non runners to get a run. Restorer did make the running on his penultimate start but normally tracks the pace so Group One Power could be the one who goes on. He has led early on his last three runs at this trip. It seems unlikely they’ll go hard so tactical speed and/or a prominent position could be important.

Sam Cooke had been struggling with keenness in his races but seemed to settle better in a hood last time out and ran his best race for some time as a result. He was a length and a quarter behind Group One Power that day at Chester and is 1lb better off here. He’s run well here before, is still lightly enough raced and has leading form claims. He might not settle if they go a slow gallop though and he'll want a fair bit of rain to fall to be at his absolute best.

Group One Power probably wouldn’t have beaten Sam Cooke last time out had that race been run over this trip instead of half a furlong shorter. He might have gone a little fast early in that race though as the other runners that were prominent early finished 6th, 7th and 10th, so to be beaten just half a length was a sound performance. He should be well placed in this and has run well here before twice. Joe Fanning is probably a lucky jockey draw given he knows very well how to set the fractions from the front.

HMS President ran on Thursday so could be a non runner in this. He ran well in a strong race at Windsor over half a furlong shorter on his penultimate start but didn’t conclusively prove his stamina that day. He’s not badly handicapped and was in good form on Thursday but could be found wanting late on if he does turn up here, for all he’s respected.

Spanish Kiss won a very hot York handicap in May (2nd, 3rd, 5th and 6th have all won since) but he too has won again since, by a wide margin, and now finds himself 16lbs higher. He ran okay here in a decent race a few weeks ago but dropping back in trip might not be ideal plus the handicapper might now have him.

C’Est No Mour seems overpriced given he’s won two of his last three and was a little unlucky last time out. His win at Goodwood in June has worked out well with the runner up and 3rd both winning next time out. C’Est No Mour is only 4lbs higher here but that was over two furlongs further than this. He’s won on anything ranging from good to soft up to good to firm but is probably better on faster ground. He’s fairly handicapped but hasn’t placed in four runs here and his run style may leave him vulnerable here.

Summary

Much will depend on the ground here. GROUP ONE POWER is better than the bare result of his last few runs and could get a very easy lead in this for a good front running jockey. If the ground goes to good to soft Sam Cooke would probably be preferred whilst C’Est No Mour will probably be seen running on too late.

2.35 - Shergar Cup Mile – 1m

The pace map for this race, which is on the round course, not the straight course.

Corazon Espinado is the most likely pace angle but he’s a reserve for this and needs two to come out so he’s unlikely to get a run. In his absence Lord Rapscallion could lead but he’s not a guaranteed pace maker. Data Protection often makes the running but he was held up last time out and this is a shorter trip than he usually races over so he might not have the pace to lay up with them here. Vintager often only tracks the pace so he might not add much to the early speed meaning we are probably looking at no better than an even pace.

Dance Fever is the relatively warm favourite after a 3rd place in the much more competitive International Stakes here last time out over 7f. He’s up another 4lbs here, will be racing on slower ground (he’s been kept to very fast ground in his career so far) and has been beaten in both starts over a mile. Hopefully the rain doesn’t cause him to become a non runner because he’s opposable and helps make the market.

Dashing Roger likes to race prominently and enjoys plenty of cut in the ground. He bounced back to form two starts ago, winning at Sandown. He went up 6lbs for that but the runner up has won since. He was 3rd off a 1lb lower mark on good to soft last time out, the winner was 4th in the Golden Mile at Goodwood and the 4th won a competitive handicap there with ease so that was pretty strong form. He’s maybe slightly in the grip of the handicapper now but should run very well again from a decent early position if the word ‘soft’ appears in the going description.

Vintager has hit form in his last couple of starts but he won a fairly poor race at Windsor and then was a little unlucky on his latest start in an average race. If the ground doesn't soften much he could run okay. Of much more interest at a bigger price would be course specialist Raising Sand. He won this race comfortably back in 2017 and has four wins and a further four places at Ascot. It had looked like age had caught up with him until cheekpieces went on in the Buckingham Palace Stakes in June. He was drawn on the wrong side that day but still finished 6th overall and he ‘won’ on his side, finishing ahead of ten other runners. Last time out he ran in the International Stakes and he was 8th, 3rd in his centre group. He’s now 5lbs and 3lbs lower respectively from those races and crucially will get easier ground here. He’s never won on good to firm ground and those recent efforts are probably as well as he’s ever run on fast ground. He's now 12lbs lower than his highest mark (two years ago) and 6lbs below his last winning mark. He's raced more prominently than usual in the cheekpieces and that should help here.

Ouzo ran a very good 4th here in the Royal Hunt Cup and never got a clear run so could be marked up but he was perhaps flattered by racing close to the stands’ side rail that day as that looked easily a career best on ground that would have been plenty fast enough. He didn’t back that up next time out when behind Dashing Roger at Salisbury. He’s only 2lbs higher than when winning at York last season but he needs very soft ground to be at his absolute best.

Summary

RAISING SAND looks a pretty obvious one and I’m surprised, given his Ascot record, he’s not much shorter in the betting. Good to soft might be absolutely perfect over this trip but even good ground should be enough for him to go close. On good ground Vintager could be the one who gives him most to do.

If the word ‘soft’ did appear in the going description Dashing Roger would be worth including in a forecast whilst Ouzo would come into the reckoning if it did get very testing.

3.10 – Shergar Cup Classic – 12f

Here's the pace map for this 3yo race.

This could be the most truly run race of the day with three last time out leaders and another that has made the running in one of their last two starts. There are no reserves in this race.

Mark Johnston has a total of three entered in this, including State Of Bliss. That runner ran a blinder in what should be a warm Goodwood handicap but that was his fourth second place in six runs. He’s still lightly raced but is beginning to look like one of those that struggles to get its head in front. Johnston did win this in 2019 with a similar type though. Annandale almost certainly wants further and Harlem Soul needs to bounce back from two poorer runs.

Barn Owl is the early favourite. He scrambled home in a Ripon novice in June but that form has been franked with the runner up, who got 5lbs from Barn Owl, winning a handicap since. That runner up is now rated 82 so Barn Owl probably isn’t badly treated off 84. He looked like this trip might suit when runner up at Sandown on seasonal debut but that didn’t look a strong race and rain probably wouldn’t suit (withdrawn on good to soft at Goodwood).

Possible Man won a decent novice in December but he’s had some limitations exposed since then. He did win last time out off just a 1lb lower mark, just beating State Of Bliss who is 2lbs worse off here so unlikely to reverse form. Stamina doesn’t look guaranteed and he was last of four when facing soft ground so rain is unlikely to help him either. Seems to be one to take on.

Sky Cutter seems quite a tricky type who gives trouble before races. He’s proven over this trip and on ground with some cut in it (he’d probably want lots of rain) and has finished runner up on both starts in the UK, for all the form of those races doesn’t look anything special. He was given an enterprising ride last time out and almost got away with it but he’s likely to have more competition for the lead here. One of the more proven runners at the very least.

Star Calibre couldn’t take advantage of weight for age against elders here last time out over two miles despite having the run of the race and he’s now looking a bit tripless.

Contact is more exposed than a few of these but he has a likeable profile. He enjoyed the step up to this trip at Pontefract, winning by 5.5 lengths, and although raised 8lbs for that he was still a creditable 5th on testing ground at Haydock trying 14f for the first time in what is normally a strong race. The very soft ground that day probably didn’t suit and whilst Contact should enjoy that trip again in the future, a strong gallop at this distance might be perfect for now. A good ride for Mickaelle Michel.

Summary

I’m keen to oppose quite a few of those near the head of the market in this one with some form question marks and definitely ground question marks if there is more than a little rain.

Sky Cutter seems solid, especially if the ground softens appreciably, but he needs to step up again on his previous form and he’d have made more appeal if an easier lead looked likely. CONTACT will need a bit of luck in running but if they go hard early as expected it could play into his hands and he’s take to finish fast and late at a decent price. One of the more difficult races though.

3.45 – Shergar Cup Sprint – 6f

The pace map for the final race on the card.

There are a couple of pace angles here so the race should be run at a decent clip. Bowman has looked far better on fast ground (or artificial surfaces) to date so there is the chance he is pulled out after some rain, although he’s been allowed to take his chance on soft ground before so seems likely to run and help set this up for something a little more patiently ridden.

If there is a non runner Crazy Luck would look fairly interesting. He’s shown good form with cut in the ground and bumped into another progressive sort last time out. The main reason for non runners here could be softening ground so the likelihood is if he gets a run, he’ll probably get his ground too.

Slightly unsurprinsgly though the three who are clear in the betting look those open to most progress though.

Royal Scimitar is completely unexposed at sprint trips. He won over 6f on his debut (runner up now rated 110) but raced over further until dropping back to this trip last time out in a hotly contested handicap restricted to 3yos at the July Festival. He’s 5lbs better off with Popmaster having finished a short head behind that rival in 4th but softening ground would be a concern - he’s been a non runner on good to soft and soft this season. He pulled away from his group in that Newmarket handicap in good style, only beaten by much higher drawn rivals, so could be a good thing if the rain stays away.

Popmaster’s best hope of beating Royal Scimitar has to be the rain. He seems pretty versatile with regards to the ground but is arguably better on slightly softer ground, he even ran well on heavy here during the Royal Meeting over what seems to be an inadequate 5f from a poor draw. His form in 6f handicaps reads 32231 and he’s still only 11lbs higher than when bumping into both Rohaan and Diligent Harry in a Lingfield handicap in March, that pair are now rated 25lbs and 20lbs higher respectively. He still looks feasibly handicapped, is very consistent, is proven at the course and won’t mind any rain.

If it does rain heavily Dream Composer is the potential fly in the ointment for Popmaster. He was 2 lengths ahead of Popmaster at Royal Ascot and he’s now 4lbs better off. He may have been much better drawn than Popmaster that day but he actually ended up making his challenge on the same part of the course and finished much more strongly so should be well enough fancied to confirm that form with the extra furlong looking a big positive. He was actually supposed to face Popmaster last time out at Doncaster but was a non runner because of the good to soft ground, perhaps an indication that he wants it really soft. He did seem to enjoy the heavy ground at Ascot after all.

Summary

Picking between the three favourites seems quite tricky and it has to be an extremely ground dependent decision. If there is very little rain and the ground is no worse than good then Royal Scimitar could be chanced, but even 4-5mm of rain might be too much for him to show his best as he seems to get on well with very fast ground.

POPMASTER is the least ground dependent of the trio and should run well whatever happens but ground just on the soft side of good could suit him perfectly, especially as it would probably be too slow for Royal Scimitar and too fast for Dream Composer.

On good to soft or worse Dream Composer might be narrowly favoured over Popmaster but even good to soft ground might be deemed too fast for connections of Dream Composer, even if he did win on good to soft at Carlisle earlier this term beating two subsequent winners in the process.

I’ve predicted good ground so I’ll stick with Popmaster but out of all the races on this card this is the one where the slightest going change would sway my decision more than any other so it may pay to wait until closer to the race or until the likely forecast is clearer.

Glorious Goodwood Preview: Farasi Lane Offers Value In Saturday’s Opener

Saturday’s 1.20pm at Goodwood, a 7f, class 2 handicap for the classic generation, is a race where there should be some strong course biases on display so it looks a good race to cover this week. The Geegeez Gold data should help us narrow this field down significantly.

These previews have to be written early which means there is always some guesswork involved with the ground when there is an uncertain forecast. The assumption at the time of writing is that the ground will be good, maybe just on the fast side of good.

All of the data used below is available through a Geegeez Gold subscription. Click here to get your first 30 days of Geegeez Gold for just £1.

Draw

There is normally a pretty strong bias around the bend over the 7f course at Goodwood, this isn’t the biggest field (11 runners) so will the draw have an impact on this contest?

There certainly still seems to be a bias towards those drawn low, even in this mid sized field. High draws win half as often as middle draws who in turn win around three quarters as often as low draws. The place data follows a similar trend and the PRB figures for low, middle and high are 0.54, 0.50 and 0.46 respectively.

The individual draw data tells us that there is a steady decline in performance the further from the inside rail you are drawn with stall 1 generating the best PRB figure and the highest stall generating the worst PRB. Stall 2 performs best for both wins and places.

In this field size every stall certainly has a chance of winning but it’s pretty clear that a lower draw gives an advantage and ideally you probably don’t want to be drawn higher than about 7.

Pace

We saw a fair sized draw advantage over this course and distance, what about a pace bias?

A fairly significant bias again, this time leaning towards those ridden nearer the pace. The win percentage data largely supports an argument that the closer you are to the pace the more chance you have of winning and the place percentage data backs that up completely with front running doing best (50% place strike rate), prominent doing next best (33.12%), then mid division (24.75%) followed by held up (21.11%).

The difference in percentages is around 17%, then around 8%, then around 3%, so the advantage seems to be growing exponentially the closer to the pace you are and front runners enjoy a big edge here.

Interestingly backing both front runners and prominent racers blind for both win and place is profitable so it looks as though we want something that races near the pace or something that looks extremely well handicapped if it’s going to be patiently ridden.

Pace Map

A strong pace here could swing things back in favour of the more patiently ridden contingent so we should take a look at the pace map.

There are three pace angles in this race so we could get an at least evenly run contest but those pace angles occupy the three highest stalls. Their best hope is to get across early so we could see a very quick first furlong with three wide drawn front runners all attacking from the gates to get the ideal position on the inside rail.

There seems to be a distinct lack of prominent racers so if you wanted to back something near the early lead then there are only three real contenders for this according to the pace map. Farasi Lane looks most likely to be the one that tracks the front three.

Draw and Pace Combination

With strong draw AND pace biases here we’ll presumably see a big advantage to low drawn front runners, of which we don’t seem to have any.

As predicted, the best place to be as far as finishing ahead of rivals is on the front end from a low draw. It’s interesting to note that leaders from high draws don’t have a good record. They must have to use too much fuel early to get that position from their draw and with all three front runners likely to go fast competing for that early lead we could end up seeing all three fade late on.

Those that are drawn high seem best off racing in mid division, although dropping them out isn’t a major disadvantage either. If you are drawn in the middle you can gain an advantage by front running but all other run styles seem fairly similar in terms of result. As for low draws, front running is obviously best of all and then there isn’t much difference between being prominent or mid division but the low draw advantage is nullified if a horse is held up. This is because they are unlikely to get a clear run on the rail and if they switch they have to go around the entire field.

Applying these findings to the pace map, Quintillus and Seven Brothers have actually got relatively good draws for their run styles, whereas Spirit Of Bermuda, Just Frank and Red Mirage do not.

Farasi Lane probably has the best run style from the low draws and you wouldn’t want to rule out Run For Freedom solely because of draw and pace. Master Zoffany and Shark Two One look likely to forfeit their draw advantage by being most patiently ridden.

The Runners

Here are the runners, in early odds order, from most fancied to least fancied.

Quintillus

Hasn’t fared well with the draw but likely to be fairly patiently ridden anyway. He was sent off just 6/4 in a warm Newmarket maiden on debut so has clearly been well thought of at home. He could only manage 4th that day but won easily on his second start, switched to the all weather, hammering Run To Freedom who is now rated 91 and reopposes here. That form makes him look very well handicapped.

He didn’t seem to see a mile out on his next two starts and was subsequently gelded before running much better over that trip in the Britannia Handicap, finishing a close up 3rd. Only four of the first ten home in that race have run since but they’ve produced form figures of 9111 so it’s clear that was a hot race, as it often is. He may well improve over a sharper test here but he is up another 5lbs.

Master Zoffany

Has shown his best form at 7f but also with cut in the ground and a drying surface here may be of a little concern. Both wins this season have come at Chester, beating several subsequent winners off a 9lbs lower mark and a couple of subsequent placers off a 3lb lower mark last time. Just Frank was 0.75 lengths behind that day and is 3lb better off here.

The feeling is Master Zoffany can win again but his inside draw here means he either has to go the brave man’s route which will more likely than not result in traffic problems or he’ll have to circle the entire field. That combined with the fact the ground might not have enough juice in it is reason to oppose at the price for all he is one to be positive about in the future.

Spirit Of Bermuda

Ran a good 4th in a hot Newmarket handicap in April.

The winner is now rated 22lbs higher, the runner up has won his only start since, the 3rd won next time out by over 3 lengths and the 5th has since won a race by 6 lengths. The 6th has also won since.

He blotted his copy book when refusing to race next time but has won both starts since, seeming to relish the drop back to this 7f. That latest win is working out well with the 2nd and 8th winning next time out and the 6th finishing runner up on his next start so a 2lb rise for that looks very lenient and he’s still only 7lbs higher than that run in the hot Newmarket handicap in April. Fast ground seems quite important so drying ground will improve his chances and the only real negative is the wide draw but at least he’s lowest drawn of the potential pace angles.

Dark Shift

Hasn’t gone on as expected since winning a soft ground Nottingham novice in May and had looked well handicapped off this sort of mark on a couple of bits of form. A fast 6f at York probably didn’t suit ideally and others who ran well from off the pace in that race have been winning or running well since but he was still a bit disappointing at Ascot’s stiffer 6f with the ground seemingly in his favour last time. This step up in trip will need to bring about plenty of improvement but drying ground might not be ideal and neither is his run style.

Just Frank

Habitual front runner who is closely matched with Master Zoffany on Chester form. He’s run since then, finishing 3rd at Doncaster on ground that might have been a bit faster than ideal. First time cheekpieces go on here which means his performance could go either way. An easy 7f with a bit of cut in the ground is probably going to prove ideal but this race is normally won by something far more progressive, for all he isn’t badly handicapped.

Farasi Lane

Reacted well to first time cheekpieces in November, winning a handicap comfortably, so it was a surprise to see that headgear dispensed with for his next three runs. He was only narrowly beaten here on one of those and was a creditable 2nd at Newmarket (4th and 6th won since) but upped his form again last time with cheekpieces reapplied, winning a decent Sandown handicap comfortably. He’s now won nicely twice on the two occasions he’s worn this headgear and it stays on this time.

He's up 5lbs but he was far superior in that last race and the 2nd and 3rd have both finished runner up since so the form of that run is okay. He’s been ridden a bit more aggressively than usual in the headgear so he may well be prominent here from a good draw. Most of his form is with a bit of cut but he was only beaten a short head here on good to firm earlier this season leaving him with very few questions to answer.

Oo De Lally

Split two progressive types over course and distance on soft ground in May and won a decent Newcastle handicap over this trip on his next start off a 2lb higher mark. Was raised 4lbs for that and then pitched into listed company at Chester on his next start, running below form and finishing last, beaten 12 lengths. The draw was against him but doesn’t really explain a performance quite that bad. He’s the type to bounce back but he does now have something to prove, especially on what could be faster ground.

Run To Freedom

Both runs this season have come at Sandown, runner up on the first of those in a race that was almost certainly weaker than this and then a well beaten 6th behind Farasi Lane last time out. He was sent off favourite for that and should be better than that form but neither of the runs this season are likely to be good enough to win this.

Red Mirage

Won his first three starts but paid for an easy Kempton handicap win with an 11lb rise in the weights and he’s been beaten 5 lengths and 10 lengths. That latter effort was his only run on turf and it was his worse effort to date plus he’s badly drawn so he looks very opposable, for all he could be one of those Mark Johnston horses that bounces back from a poor run or two.

Shark Two One

Sent off at 50/1 and 5.5 lengths behind Master Zoffany last time out. That was his best run this season but it still seems he’s not as good as last season and therefore badly handicapped on those efforts last term. Also a non runner on fast ground this season and all his best form is on much more testing ground so opposable again here.

Seven Brothers

Won three of seven starts including seasonal debut in April off this mark, beating the well handicapped Popmaster. Much better than the bare result at Newmarket on his next start in a hot handicap but ran poorly at York on his next start. Blinkers went on for the first time last time out in a hot Newmarket sprint handicap and although only 11th and beaten 4.75 lengths he still finished his race off well enough. The blinkers aren’t retained here.

He's fairly handicapped on a couple of bits of form this season and therefore looks a big price but he does have to prove a step up in trip is what he wants. He is bred for sprinting so he’ll probably need to lower his sights a little at 6f rather than going up to this distance in order to get his fourth career win.

The Verdict

The trio who make most appeal here are Quintillus, Spirit Of Bermuda and Farasi Lane.

Had Spirit Of Bermuda had a much lower draw he’d be a pretty confident selection as he’d have a great chance of making all. The record of wide drawn front runners over this course and distance is just about enough to put me off at the price, wide drawn leaders haven’t even had a place in five attempts in the data sample used in the Draw Analyser.

Quintillus will probably improve for the drop in trip and the Britannia Handicap is working out nicely. He’s clearly been well regarded and he has a massive form chance. He’s not well drawn in 8 though and although his run style might nullify that bad draw, being held up here is a disadvantage so against some decent opposition he’ll need to be extremely well handicapped. At the price I can let him win.

The one with seemingly everything possibly in his favour is FARASI LANE. He’s a bit more exposed than some of these but he’s well drawn, proven at the course, won a decent race last time out, came 2nd in a hot race on his penultimate start and crucially nothing has got near him in two starts with these cheekpieces on. He’s as big as 10/1 in places at the time of writing and that just looks far too big as an each way bet in what should be a very good race.

These three runners will be ridden by the three jockeys in this race with the most wins at this venue in the past couple of years so they’ll all be in good hands to give their running.

Sky Bet Dash Preview: Lightly Raced Streamline Looks Value Play

A top day of racing on Saturday and I’m spoiled for choice with choosing which live race to cover. From a betting perspective it’s the big field handicaps that grab my attention which makes it a choice between York’s Sky Bet Dash and Ascot’s International Stakes. I’ll probably be having a stronger wager in the latter but Ascot are due thunderstorms on Saturday so it’s going to be a waiting game to see how the ground turns out. York is set to be dry according to early forecasts so previewing the Sky Bet Dash should be a bit more straight forward at this stage.

The race is due off at 2.40 and unless the weather forecast changes it is set to be run on fast ground.

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Draw

A pretty good sample size here and the data suggests an edge towards those drawn lower. The win data is pretty evenly matched but the place percentages favour low heavily, followed by middle and then high. This is backed up with the PRB data, low draws having a PRB of 0.53, middle draws 0.49 and high draws 0.48.

When you watch the sprints at York the winners nearly always seem to finish in the middle of the track so it seems slightly surprising that middle draws don’t come out best. If anything more runners seem to race along the near side rail (high) than the far side rail (low) so again it’s a bit surprising low numbers seem to outperform high by so much.

Perhaps the individual stall data can shed more light on this.

Ignoring stall 21, which has only been used once, the top four individual stalls as far as PRB are concerned are 2, 6, 4 and 3 in that order. Some of the higher stalls have performed well but the worst five stalls individually using PRB as the metric are 9 or higher which certainly suggests lower is better overall.

Determining a draw advantage isn’t just about showing that some stalls perform better than others, how much better they are is the really important aspect. Looking at the PRB3 figures the majority of the lower to middle stalls are around 0.53 and the majority of the middle to higher stalls are around 0.49 so whilst it looks a bit of an advantage to be lower it’s clearly not a huge disadvantage to be amongst the higher stalls.

Pace

I’m fairly certain we’ll some some strong data here.

Anyone who bets fairly regularly on the York straight track will know it favours speed. More winners than any other run style come from the rear but they provide a much bigger sample. In terms of win percentages, a big looking 11.54% of early leaders triumph compared to 4.59% for prominent, 4.68% for mid division and 5.24% for held up. That’s a big advantage for front runners as far as winning is concerned, but is it the same for place percentages?

Once again the top place percentage is with front runners (34.62%) whilst prominent racers have a 21.62% place strike rate. It’s 18.3% for mid division and 20.27% for held up. The main difference between the data seems to be mid division is second best for win purposes but worst of all for place bets. The figures are closely matched though and it does look as though the front is the place to be where possible with prominent a bit of an advantage over the remaining run styles but perhaps not as advantaged other them as expected. I certainly thought prominent which be far more favoured than held up.

Sky Bet Handicap Pace Map

So which of these are most likely to lead early on?

There are four main pace angles in this, spread fairly nicely across the track. The low pace should come from Giogiobbo and Manigordo with central pace provided by Muscika and high pace from Flying Pursuit.

There seems to be a lack of prominent racers with Streamline, Admirality and Blind Beggar likely to track the above mentioned quartet.

The remaining runners look as though they’ll be played fairly late.

Draw and Pace Combination

I’ve mentioned before how much I value this part of the draw data in Geegeez Gold, it gives an extra layer of insight into draw and pace, especially when there are strong draw or pace biases.

A real standout advantage for those who make the running from a middle draw. That’s a big tick for Muscika who just happened to win this last year.

The worst place to be is mid division from a middle draw, that would be the area where you are most likely to find yourself surrounded by rivals with nowhere to go so that makes perfect sense.

If you are drawn low you are generally best off being close to the pace and performance tails off very slightly the further back in the field you are. Those drawn high see less fluctuations in performance based on run style.

The Runners

Here are the main contenders, in early odds order.

Mondammej

He's run in some tough handicaps this season, often well fancied, but has been beaten on his last six starts, placing in four of those. His worst performances came at Chester on good to soft and York on soft, both over 5f, and this will be a very different test over the extra furlong on much better ground.

He is running out of excuses though. The ground will have been against him several times and at Newcastle when runner up to the progressive Ejtilaab he did best of those held up and best of those in the centre of the track. Last time out seemed to be as good as he is but to be fair he was only beaten half a length and the ground might still have been a little softer than ideal. He stayed on as though another furlong will suit and we may see Significantly and/or Tis Marvellous frank that form on Friday afternoon.

He ran well here in May on good ground, with the 5f looking inadequate and overall he looks very likely to run his race and run well. This could be last chance saloon for backers though if he doesn't get his head in front.

Giogiobbo

Rated 103 when he came to England two and a half years ago but after a winless two seasons he dropped to a mark of 67. He’s taken full advantage of that this season winning all three starts (all at Doncaster) and although he’s never run here at York, his front running style will be ideally suited to this venue.

He’s still 'only' gone up 11lbs this season for his three wins which is reasonable, putting him on a mark of 78. It’s a complete stretch to suggest he’s still got the best part of 20lbs in hand given his rating two years ago as he’s an 8yo now but he could have a bit more left in the tank. This is a much tougher race than those he’s contested this season though.

Golden Apollo

Having his 14th run here on Saturday. He generally runs well here but often finishes just outside of the places. He’s run into form in his last couple of starts, a little unlucky not to grab a win in either.

He was 2nd in this race last year off a 3lb higher mark, 4th two years ago off a 2lb higher mark and 2nd off a 6lb higher mark three years ago. Three of his four places here have come in this race, the other coming when winning the hot 3yo handicap run in June the previous year. This course and distance, at this time of year, clearly suit him. In fact 11 of his last 13 places have come in either June, July or August so he clearly just takes a little warming up each season.

Music Society

Not the easiest to win with (only one win in the past two seasons) but did get his head in front at Pontefract this season and is generally consistent. He was 7th in this last season off a 3lb lower mark but goes into the race in better form this season having been beaten just a nose in the Scottish Stewards’ Cup last time out at Hamilton. He’s possibly slightly better with an uphill finish though and he did flop here just a couple of weeks ago.

Flying Pursuit

Won this in 2017 and 2018 and was 5th in 2019, all with plenty of cut in the ground. He hasn’t even managed to place on ground that was good or better since 2017. He’s presumably been entered in the hope of thunderstorms but as things stand he looks far more likely to be scratched than to get near the places.

Gulliver

Goes well here, in fact all four of his turf wins have come on the Knavesmire. He has won over course and distance on fast ground but that was in 2019 and he seems better with cut in the ground these days – his last two wins here came on soft ground in October. He looked far too slow here in May in a similar race on good to soft off a 2lb higher mark and is likely to be making up late ground at best here. One to watch out for here in October chasing the hat trick (assuming soft ground at that meeting).

Streamline

Lightly raced 4yo who has mostly featured on the all weather but he won on debut on turf and ran to a fair level here as a 2yo in a listed race, ticking the important course form box. His only poor run came at Kempton in March and he subsequently missed three months of action but made a satisfactory return behind Mondammej and he’s now 5lbs better off for a length defeat.

Blind Beggar

The sole 3yo in the line up and ran well in the big 3yo handicap over course and distance last month, finishing a better than the bare result 6th on fast ground. His best form before that had come on softer ground and it’s entirely possible he’ll prove even better when there is a bit more dig. A reproduction of that 6th could see him go close here though. The 2nd and 7th have both won since and he was ridden with more restraint that day than is normally the case so could improve with a more prominent ride.

Only 10th last time at Newmarket but that was also on fast ground in a hot 3yo handicap and he wasn’t beaten much further than at York. Looks capable of running well but might need rain before he can win a race of this nature.

Venturous

Consistently running well but finishing just outside of the places at the moment, a strong sign that he probably isn’t well handicapped. He’s not far off his career high turf mark and is 12lbs higher than his last turf win. Most his wins are at 5f but an easy 6f is within his range. He stayed on from a poor position here in May and has run several good races here but he’ll do well to get into the places in this for all he shouldn’t run at all badly.

George Bowen

Not always the most consistent with slow starts often hampering his chances and this isn’t a course where you want to forfeit ground early. He did win a similar race to this by 6 lengths here in 2017 but he’s never gone close to matching that sort of form here again, managing no better than 5th in seven course and distance runs since. Capable on his day but not one to put too much faith in.

Muscika

Last year’s winner is ideally drawn to attack in the middle here and is only 1lb higher than when taking this twelve months ago. He’s been inconsistent this season but got within a neck of beating Ejtilaab (won next time out) at Epsom in June off a 1lb higher mark and although 7th of 8 last time out, he was only beaten 2 lengths off a 2lb higher mark.

The case for a good run possibly relies on a switch in headgear and a return to this venue. He wore blinkers when winning this year but wasn’t in as good form in the two runs either side of that in the same headgear. There is no obvious correlation between what headgear works for Muscika and it’s probably just that he’s quite an inconsistent horse. He has been more consistent here though producing form figures of 221010 on his last six runs at York.

Admirality

Difficult to win with and has struggled for much consistency this season. Fast ground suits well and he's run well here before but he’s probably better over 7f and even at his best he tends to finish as the runner up – he’s finished 2nd on six occasions since his last victory.

Manigordo

Returned to form last time out at Redcar (2nd) after a couple of lesser displays and his run style is suited to this course for all he has run poorly twice here this season in two attempts. The race he ran well in on Sunday was a much lesser event than this but he did push a potentially very well handicapped runner close.

This might be a bit too hot and his course form is a worry, for all it might just have been a couple of off days (ran just as poorly at Thirsk last month having won there in April).

Mokaatil

Surprise Epsom Dash winner and although he has run many times over 6f his best form seems to come at the minimum trip. Has seemed badly handicapped since winning at Epsom and his best chance of defying this sort of mark may come at that venue again, he’s two from three there.

Typhoon Ten

A bit unlucky to not get his head in front this year given he’s been beaten both a nose and a short head. His sole turf win came off a 2lb lower mark at Windsor and he doesn’t look to have the form to land a race this competitive.

Lahore

Won here over 5f last year off a 1lb higher mark and ran okay in the Ayr Gold Cup last season when 6th off a 4lb higher mark. His run style does leave him with plenty to do here but he has a fair course record, although not quite running up to his mark last time out in listed company here. Capable of outrunning his odds but would need to bounce back to his best to be in the shake up.

The Verdict

An amazingly difficult puzzle to figure out and it’s much easier to list the runners that I think are least likely to place than to finish in the money. For the record they are Music Society, Flying Pursuit, Gulliver, Venturous, George Bowen, Admirality, Manigordo, Mokaatil, Typhoon Ten and Lahore.

The above is based on good to firm ground. I’m not expecting the ground to soften but if it did get really testing Gulliver could be the one, whilst on good or softer I’d be far keener on Blind Beggar than on good to firm. If you can get as many as six places in this I wouldn’t at all be opposed to backing Blind Beggar each way, even on fast ground, but I think he’ll struggle to win this on good to firm so he only makes so much appeal.

I can’t rule out Giogiobbo but this is a big step up and all his form this season is at Doncaster - this could just be too tough for him.

As long as the ground stays fast, Blind Beggar is reluctantly passed over for win purposes leaving the shortlist as Mondammej, Golden Apollo, Streamline and Muscika.

Golden Apollo has a great record in this race, is in form and well handicapped. It all seems a bit too obvious doesn’t it? He’s probably at his best at this time of year and in big fields. He’s maybe drawn a little higher than absolutely ideal but looks guaranteed to run a big race. My feeling is he’ll find one or two too good again but he should be a safe each way bet once again.

Muscika would probably win this if able to reproduce Epsom form from last month but he’s just too inconsistent. He’s not really an each way proposition given that inconsistency, even at 16/1, but given his run style, draw and course record he's worth a win only saver whatever you fancy to win this.

That leaves Mondammej and Streamline. Mondammej is another that looks nailed on to run his race in what are probably pretty much ideal conditions (has raced on softer ground most of this season, and over shorter) but he’s very well found in the market and he’s drawn very wide in 15. If Flying Pursuit is pulled out because of the ground he’ll lose a pacemaker on his side and it could be another case of close but no cigar.

At around twice the price I’d rather side with STREAMLINE. He’s handicapped to beat Mondammej on their recent meeting and although most of his form is on artificial surfaces he has run to a good level on turf and has even placed in listed company here at York. He races far more prominently than Mondammej so is less of a hostage to fortune. He too is drawn a bit higher than ideal but he’ll go forward so may find it easier to get a better, more central position and is likely to be less reliant on the other pace around him to take him into the race.

Indianapolis Overpriced In Newbury Staying Handicap

Hardly a vintage weekend of racing, even with the Irish Oaks taking place at the Curragh, and personally speaking the only live heat to make any betting appeal is the 2 mile handicap at Newbury, due off at 2.25pm.

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Draw

Draw advantages often diminish over longer trips, is there anything in the draw over 2 miles at Newbury though?

Only a small sample size here so the win percentages are of little to no interest. The place percentages suggest low is advantageous with a place percentage of 28.57% compared to 17.78% for middle and 23.81% for high.

The PRB data should be a bit more reliable in a small sample than place data and that again suggests low is best of all but the PRB is only 0.51 with middle next best at 0.50 and high showing up at 0.48.

There seems no real trend looking at the individual stall data so it seems safe to assume it’s a pretty level playing field as far as the draw is concerned.

Pace

It’s going to be another small sample but does the data suggest any sort of pace bias here?

The lack of depth to the data suggests we shouldn’t get carried away here but what data there is does imply that patiently ridden runners could have an advantage. That’s not a massive surprise given Newbury has a long straight which should allow most runners time to get a clear run and time to get fully wound up.

Mid division comes out best in terms of place percentages and comfortably so with this run style generating a place strike rate of 35.71%. Next best is held up at 24% which isn’t too far ahead of prominent at 20.59%. Front runners have performed worst of all at 9.09%.

All other things being equal it may well pay to support something coming from the rear half of the field in this.

Pace Map

Let’s take a look at the pace map for this contest.

There isn’t a lot of pace forecast for this race with Withhold, a previous winner of this race, likely to get a fairly comfortable time of things up front. Mildenberger and Call My Bluff seem most likely to apply pressure but both are likely to be content tracking the pace.

With a pretty steady gallop here much of the course bias pace data could go out of the window. It certainly seems that runners that appreciate a strong test of stamina could be inconvenienced with the speedier stayers perhaps the ones to concentrate on.

The Runners

Here are all thirteen runners, in early odds order.

Zeeband

Still very lightly raced and comfortable winner of the Northumberland Plate consolation race a few weeks ago. He’s gone up 8lbs for that but the step up to two miles for the first time brought about a career best and that was also his first run in a visor, which is retained here.

He clearly has the potential to rate higher but it’s worth noting that Zeeband’s best turf runs have come with a fair amount of cut in the ground and it’s likely to be on the fast side of good here. He does seem to have a nice blend of speed and stamina so if the ground is fine a bold show should be expected.

Rodrigo Diaz

Another lightly raced improver who has been better than ever this season. He was unbeaten in handicaps last season, finishing the season with a victory over 14f at Wolverhampton. All of those wins came on the all weather but he’s proved just as good on turf this season, finding only the progressive Aaddeey too good at Newmarket before winning at Doncaster. He beat the improving Duke Of Condicote that day (now 8lbs higher) with a bit to spare so should be capable of defying a 7lb higher mark.

With that in mind it was disappointing he was only 3rd off a 6lb higher mark next time out back at Kempton. He wasn’t ideally placed that day and looked as though going back up to 14f would help but it’s interesting connections have persisted with 12f races after he won at 14f, possibly suggesting they don’t see him as real a stayer. This might not be a thorough test of stamina though and he should still be on a mark he can win off.

Withhold

Won this two years ago and could get an easy lead here. His win in this came off a mark of 107 and he rated as high as 113 but some lacklustre efforts this season have seen him drop to a mark of 105.

Most of last season’s form would give him a decent shout, he got within a length of Trueshan at Salisbury and Trueshan went on to win impressively at Group 2 level. This season though he was beaten 62 lengths at Chester and 17.5 lengths in listed company at Sandown in a race he had previously won. On the form of those runs he has no chance here and he needs more than just an easy lead to bounce back. One to watch in the market as he’s been well backed before victory in the past but difficult to back him with much faith.

Margaret Dumont

Seemed to improve for a switch to artificial surfaces this season for Hugo Palmer having raced exclusively on turf last season for Mark Johnston. She looks a very thorough stayer and ran a good 2nd to Zeeband last time out at Newcastle. Her sole run this season on turf saw her beat 60 lengths though and fast turf was blamed for that defeat so that has to be a concern here.

She did run okay a couple of times on fast ground last season but even that form gives her plenty to find here off a higher mark. She’s not without a chance if transferring that all weather form to turf but on all known turf form she’s very opposable.

Scaramanga

In good form over hurdles earlier this year and a flat rating of 86 does look exploitable compared to a hurdle rating of 151. An 86 day absence isn’t necessarily a concern given he won here over hurdles in March off a 146 day break.

He’s yet to win in ten flat runs though. His form on softer ground can be thrown out as he wants fast ground and his flat form figures on fast ground or the all weather since joining current connections reads 2432. Appeals more as a place only bet if this race has been the plan for him but backing him to win this is a bit of a leap given he’s been so expensive to follow on the flat.

Call My Bluff

Progressive stayer who may be slightly better on turf than artificial surfaces. His form at this trip or further on turf reads 11211 with the one defeat coming against Main Line who was winning his eighth straight race (all codes).

He won by just a neck last time out at Chester and is 3lbs higher here, possibly suggesting the handicapper is catching up with him. He’s probably still well handicapped on soft ground but the major concern here has to be the ground. He’s been pulled out twice this season because of good or good to firm ground and his only run on fast ground to date resulted in a defeat off a 23lbs lower mark.

Just Hubert

Thorough stayer who was 7th in this last year off a 2lb lower mark before winning the 2m4f handicap at Glorious Goodwood. His two best runs in the past year have both come at Goodwood and perhaps he needs a track like that to keep him interested as he seems too slow at most other venues these days. First time cheekpieces go on in a clear attempt to perk him up and they may have the desired effect, but they could just as easily have an adverse effect.

Mildenberger

Rated higher on the all weather than turf and rightly so but is capable of some smart performances on grass. He was 2nd to Roaring Lion in the 2018 Dante Stakes and 3rd in the 2019 Jockey Club Stakes at Newmarket. He perhaps hasn’t improved going up in trip on turf like he has on artificial surfaces though and he was a disappointing favourite last time out in the Esher Stakes, for all the ground might have been slightly too slow on that occasion. His turf form at distances further than 12f suggest he’ll do well to win this off 106.

Sleeping Lion

A capable stayer whose last win came off a 7lb lower mark at Kempton in April. A 7lb rise for that win seems harsh and so it proved at Royal Ascot when Sleeping Lion was well beaten, albeit poorly placed. He’s generally struggled to put two good runs together since his 3yo win here three years ago and is therefore rarely a strong betting proposition. When he’s good, he’s very good but not one to put too much faith in and this is a tough task off this mark.

Indianapolis

Without a win since 2019 but finally getting some respite from the handicapper. His form from this time last year would give him a good chance in this – he was 3rd to reliable yardstick Hochfeld over 14f and then 4th in a 17 runner handicap at York, both efforts coming off 10lb higher marks.

This season he showed very little in three runs having moved to Ian Williams in March but last time out he was much better, only 4th of 9 at Ascot but beaten just 2 lengths. Even two runs ago he was only 3.5 lengths being the favourite here Zeeband and he’s now 12lbs better off. There was money for him last time out so an improvement was clearly expected and it will be interesting to see if that money comes again here.

Mancini

Another that improved last time out on some previously lifeless runs this season. Mancini’s last two wins have come off this mark, in 2019 over 2m on fast ground and in 2020 over 14f on fast ground. Every drying moment will be music to connection’s ears. The big doubt is the field size though. All his six wins have come in single digit field sizes, in bigger fields he is 0 from 13.

Global Heat

Improved for a step up to 14f as recently as February, going down just a short head in a Meydan Group 3. He shaped as though worth a try over further that day but didn’t cut any ice behind Subjectivist in the Dubai Gold Cup at that distance. On his return to the UK he was pulled up in testing conditions in the Queen Alexandra Stakes at Royal Ascot. It’s probably not best to judge him on that latest effort and he still has scope as a stayer but he’s rated 105 here, is so far unproven at this distance and has some well being questions to answer so he’s not easy to back.

Lucky Deal

After missing 18 months of action he worked his way back to form, winning twice on the all weather either side of the new year. He continued in good form on artificial surfaces but has struggled since on turf. The handicapper hasn’t shown much leniency dropping him just 4lbs for a combined losing distance of over 63 lengths. Blinkers haven’t brought about any improvement and connections now reach for a visor. He’s becoming well handicapped and will bounce back at some point but is difficult to back on current form and needs a real test of stamina to be at his absolute best.

The Verdict

A slightly disappointing turnout for this race with many of these having questions to answer. Zeeband and Rodrigo Diaz are clearly the progressive ones in the field but the former has some ground doubts and doesn’t look worth risking at the price whilst the latter has to prove his stamina. Backing horses going up in distance can be a great angle but he doesn’t look to be crying out for two miles.

It’s probably worth taking a chance on INDIANAPOLIS each way at around 16/1 (most bookies paying 4 places). Ian Williams won this last year at a similar price and this runner is well handicapped on last season’s form, giving hints he was returning to something near his best last time out. He’s capable of racing prominently which might be an advantage with a lack of strong page in this and his form over shorter distances could be an advantage if this turns into a bit of a sprint finish.

Withhold seems unbackable on current form, Margaret Dumont is probably better on the all weather, Scaramanga has been expensive to follow and is yet to win on the flat whilst Call My Bluff would prefer softer ground. The majority of the fancied runners aren’t guaranteed to give their running so Indianapolis has an excellent chance of placing at the very least.

John Smith’s Cup 2021 Preview: Take Pride To Emerge On Top

Plenty of very competitive races to get stuck into on ‘Super Saturday’ but the main race of interest is surely the John Smith’s Cup at York (4.05pm). This is one of my favourite races of the season and it’s often won by a horse capable of mixing it at Group level.

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Draw

A massive field of 22 set to go to post for this one, one of the biggest fields you’ll see go around a bend all season, so is there a draw bias?

According to the data above, there isn’t much between low, middle and high. Middle draws have produced the most winners (13) whilst there is little between low and high from a win perspective (9 and 10 respectively).

There isn't much between the place percentage data either. Middle draws once again have a very slight edge with a 20% place strike rate but low comes in at 21.94% with high draws not far behind at 20.41%.

The PRB data also backs up the suggestion that there isn’t much of a draw bias with low draws producing a PRB of 0.50, middle draws at 0.51 and high draws 0.49.

Looking at the individual stall data, there isn’t a huge amount between a lot of the stalls again. The main thing that stands out is the extremely high stalls tend to perform relatively poorly but there is very limited data for these. Stalls 17, 18 and 19 do have a decent sample size and they are amongst the poorer stalls for place percentage and PRB but stall 17 has won this twice on ground that is good or softer and stall 22 has won before on faster ground.

Given the data I’d prefer to be drawn between 3 and 16 inclusive but very high draws look a slight disadvantage rather than a reason to rule out a runner.

Pace

York tends to be a pace track over sprint distances but is it fairer over this extended 10f?

This course and distance looks pretty fair from a pace perspective on easier ground. Not many winners manage to make all, with a relatively poor win percentage of 4.17% but the place percentage doesn’t perform too badly at 18.75%, even if it is statistically the least successful run style for place purposes too.

The best win percentage belongs to prominent, followed by held up whilst the place percentages suggest mid division is very slightly favoured over prominent. The place percentage backs up the win percentage data in front runners doing least best and hold ups doing next least best but there is very little in the figures suggesting you shouldn’t be put off any run style unless the pace map shows an extreme likely pace outcome.

John Smith’s Cup Pace Map

This is the pace map for the 2021 John Smith’s Cup, based on each runner’s last two runs.

Very interesting that there is a ton of likely early pace in this contest. A huge eight of these runners led early last time out and three of them have led early on at least their last two starts. There is so much pace that you’d probably think twice about even backing anything that races prominently as they could be too close to a pace collapse.

Judging by the likely pace in this race, preference would be for runners who should be held up in mid division or in the rear.

Draw and Pace Combination

One more data view before we look at the runners.

This heat map shows the likely best run styles for each draw in this race. Historically higher drawn front runners have performed better than their lower drawn counterparts whereas the best draw for prominent racers has been low.

We are probably more interested in the best draws for mid division and held up given the likely strong pace and the data from previous races suggests a middle draw is slightly preferred for both of those run styles. There is very little between low and high draws for the more patiently ridden runners.

The Runners

Here are the main contenders for this year’s John Smith’s Cup, in early odds order.

Astro King

Progressive this season in top handicaps and was runner up in the Royal Hunt Cup on his latest start. He’s gone up 4lbs for that run but gets to run off the same mark here so is 4lbs well in. Connections have often said he’ll be better going back up in trip (raced exclusively at a mile this season but ran over 10f last year) and several of his runs back that up but the ground has to be a slight question mark here. His poorest run to date came on soft ground over this trip and any rain that falls on Saturday is likely to decrease his chances of winning. He’d have been a solid contender on fast ground but he’s opposable on good to soft or worse.

Surrey Pride

Boasts rock solid claims after a course and distance win here in May. He won pretty comfortably that day, looking to have improved since a successful 3yo campaign, and a 6lb rise surely underestimates him given how that form has worked out. The 2nd, 4th, 5th, 7th and 8th have all won since which is extremely hot form and I’m a big fan of course form when betting at York, especially when there is some cut in the ground.

One common misconception in racing is that horses that don’t want fast ground automatically want soft ground and vice versa. Surrey Pride is one of those horses that doesn’t want extremes of going. He finished 4th on his only run on good to firm, his form on soft or heavy ground reads 5557 and his form on good or good to soft reads 61111, with the only defeat coming on debut (in a maiden that worked out well). If the ground doesn’t soften beyond good to soft on Saturday (there is a bit of rain forecast) he’s the one to beat. The one question mark is being drawn in the highest stall. It’s probably a disadvantage, but not a massive one and not one that hasn’t been overcome before (Farraaj won from stall 22 in 2014).

Aaddeey

I gave this horse a good write up for the Old Newton Cup on Saturday only for the ground to soften and for him to be withdrawn. It’s unlikely the ground is going to be perfect here and the drop in trip has to be considered a pretty big negative. He did run well over 10f at Newbury on seasonal debut in what was a warm race but he’s 15lbs higher here courtesy of improving for running over 12f. A strong pace will help him but he’s probably going to get 14f this season and on ground that is softer than ideal he’s worth taking on.

Dawaam

Owen Burrows’ runner is four from five on the all weather but yet to reach the places in three efforts on turf. You couldn’t say he doesn’t go on turf as he was only beaten 5 lengths in the Wolferton at Royal Ascot last time and he’s technically 8lbs well in here. However he did fail to beat a rival home on his only run on good to soft ground and that came off a lower mark than this so he’s a bit of a punt in this and surprisingly short in the betting, the fact that he’s 8lbs well in probably largely determining that.

Ascension

Happiest when the mud is flying so his run on fast ground in the Royal Hunt Cup last time out is easily forgiven. He was a comfortable winner before that on good to soft ground at Newbury in a fair handicap but probably flattered by running on the favoured near side rail on that occasion and not necessarily the best runner in that race. This is his first run over further than a mile and he hasn’t looked to be crying out for this test to date but his sire has winners at all trips and the dam stayed 10f so there are possibilities.

Fishable

A Ripon specialist (form figures there of 1141) but does have York form too. He was runner up over course and distance last season on soft ground and then although only 8th in first time cheekpieces here behind Surrey Pride in May, he missed the break by about 5 lengths that day and was badly squeezed up when in the process of running a big race. He has gone up 3lbs since for winning again at Ripon.

He looks to have a major form chance but he did make all last time and trying those same tactics here would probably be a mistake. He has also been held up plenty of times though and it might just be a case of connections choosing to ride him more prominently when he goes to Ripon, tactics that are suited to that course. Stall 18 is probably slightly higher than ideal but not the end of the world.

Al Zaraqaan

Progressive on the all weather over the winter but hasn’t run to the same level on any going type since on turf. He did run better on turf at Group 2 level on fast ground than he did on soft ground in a listed race but he’s not going to get fast turf here and he’s yet to prove he’s capable of winning a big handicap off a mark of 107 on turf. He does have further progression left in him though.

Good Birthday

Won the Zetland Gold Cup at Redcar this season and it’s a race that has worked out very well. He was well placed that day though and probably not the best horse in the race and he didn’t back it up next time out at Newmarket when well beaten. The ground might have been more to blame that day than a 4lb rise and easier ground will undoubtedly suit more here. He’s been well beaten in two runs at York and isn’t always the most reliable so although he’s capable of running well if on a going day, others look better handicapped.

Nicholas T

Not many horses win the Northumberland Plate before coming here but he does have plenty of form over this trip and is on a roll having put together back to back wins. He’s taken his form to a new level this season over trips further than this and it’s likely he could struggle off a career high mark now.

Bright Start

Probably been better on all weather surfaces to date and his only win came on dirt in Meydan over the winter. He has run well on a variety of going types on turf and can’t be completely ruled out having finished a nose runner up to a progressive type last time out but his turf form does leave him needing to step up and he could be ridden too close to the pace here.

Johnny Drama

Took his form to a new level over the winter on all weather surfaces and if he translates that improvement back to turf he’s well handicapped considering his turf mark is 9lbs lower than his all weather mark. He has been runner up over course and distance off this sort of mark twice so he’s not completely ruled out even if he hasn’t improved. His turf form last season requires a step up though and he could be a bit too close to the early gallop for comfort here.

Lucander

An interesting one at the price. He won over course and distance last season on soft ground which gives him a 100% record at York from two runs. He was runner up in last season’s Cambridgeshire off a 1lb lower mark on good ground and returned in good form this season, finishing 2nd at Newmarket behind an enterprisingly ridden rival. The third in that race has won since. Only beat one home last time in the Royal Hunt Cup but a mile on fast ground wouldn’t have suited. He’s often held up in mid division which should be perfect from his middle draw and the easier ground and return to York should help him improve from a poor effort last time out.

Data Protection

Tends to run his best races at Newmarket or Epsom and was well below par when favourite on his only try at York. Likely to help set a strong pace and has work to do off a career high mark.

Cockalorum

In the form of his life at the moment although this is a big step up from the class 4 handicaps he’s been winning. He made all for both recent wins too and those tactics are unlikely to see him to best effect here.

Dark Pine

Proved his recent improvement wasn’t just down to all weather surfaces when winning at Chester before finding heavy ground over further at Royal Ascot too much. Not handicapped out of this off 4lb higher and could go well at a price but obviously needs to improve again in this company.

Hartswood

Has a bit of a reputation as a York specialist despite just the one win here, having also filled the places in several top handicaps here. Won last time out when getting the run of the race at Newcastle and still has a chance of landing a decent race at this course off his new mark. He’s only tried this distance once and didn’t seem to stay so would have made much more appeal in the mile handicap earlier in the card but it will be interesting to see how he takes to this trip here at York.

Victory Chime

Had limitations exposed last time out at listed level and has generally performed best at front runner friendly tracks. Much more competition for the lead here and probably not well enough handicapped.

Winter Reprise

Needs to step up massively on what he’s done this season and seems very reliant on leading early, which will almost certainly compromise his chance here.

Palavecino

Hasn’t quite matched his all weather form on turf despite not having a split mark and it’s a slight worry his best turf form seems to have come at Chester. Another that could be too close to the early gallop and doesn’t look well enough handicapped.

What’s The Story

Has a good record at York and runs in this for the fourth consecutive year. This trip seems to stretch him a little and his best chance of a win off this mark would be on fast ground over a mile here.

Sky Defender

Inconsistent and difficult to win with but has shown he can run well off this sort of mark and has strong course and distance form. Probably too reliant on getting an easy lead though which he won’t get here and needs to bounce back from a poor run.

Strait Of Hormuz

Still lightly raced and better than the bare result in both runs this season. He’s only 3lbs higher than when winning a decent handicap at Doncaster last season over this trip and didn’t seemingly stay further on his next two runs. He dropped back to this trip last time out at Epsom and although beaten 11.5 lengthsit was a day of exaggerated winning distances and Strait Of Hormuz met trouble in running and had to be snatched up. He does have form on softish ground but he’s probably better on good or better, which means the ground has probably gone slightly against him here. He’s worth watching out for on better ground though and should outrun his odds, especially if less rain falls on Saturday than is forecast.

The Verdict

A fair few of those near the head of the betting look worth taking on for reasons outlined above and although Strait Of Hormuz is very likely to outrun his odds, especially if the course doesn’t catch any more showers, he probably needs even faster ground to go close in a race of this nature.

I’m so much more confident betting on course form at York and Lucander, Fishable and Surrey Pride all have strong course and distance form to their names. The fact that Lucander is unbeaten in two runs here makes him really interesting and there are obvious reasons for him to bounce back here from a poor run but he would have appealed slightly more if he’d run just a bit better at Ascot last time. He’s still massively overpriced and worth covering though, especially with Laura Pearson riding and claiming 5lbs.

Fishable may not have won here but he’s unlucky to not have placed in both course and distance starts and will find conditions perfect here. If he’d got a clear run behind Surrey Pride last time he’d probably have finished 3rd or 4th and would be going into this a shorter price. He’s been in good form all season, is consistent and after just ten runs should still be improving a little. The only slight worry with him is being ridden too close to the pace but he’s been held up in all three visits to York (didn’t have much choice last time admittedly after missing the break).

Assuming Saturday's rain isn't enough to send the ground back to soft though SURREY PRIDE looks the most likely to go well. We’re yet to see how far he can go on good/good to soft ground and he’s proven over course and distance with his last race working out well. He’s been held back for this since and his run style is ideally suited to a course like this where he can make up ground on the bridle. The draw isn’t ideal but his run style should be.

Coral Challenge 2021 Preview: Prominent Racers Hold The Key

The Eclipse always gets the bulk of the attention on the Sandown card but it’s very rarely a good betting race and I find the so called ‘Coral Challenge’ which is a one mile class 2 handicap, often with a decent sized field, is the race to get stuck into. This year looks no different. The race is due off at 2.25pm with a field of fifteen declared.

Just like at Haydock, it looks as though the ground will be drying out as we get closer to the off time but there are some showers forecast on the day of the race. This is Britain, during the summer, so it’s always possible they’ll get plenty more than is forecast. As it stands we’ll probably be looking for runners that don’t enjoy extremes of going.

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Draw

Let’s take a look at potential draw biases for this race.

We have a fairly decent sample size here and the first thing that stands out is just 6 high drawn winners compared to 14 and 15 from low and middle respectively. The place percentages back up the win data with low and middle producing place strike rates of 23.72% and 25.15% respectively, which both compare favourably to the place percentage of 17.31% for high draws.

The PRB figures suggest that middle is the best place to be with a PRB of 0.53 compared to 0.5 for low and 0.47 for high.

With middle possibly preferred and high draw runners seemingly at a disadvantage, we need to check the individual stall data for sweet spots.

Some slightly strange data with stalls 14 and 15 producing strong PRB figures, surprising given the overall poor PRB for higher numbers. Stalls 7, 9, 10 and 11 all have poor records, which suggests that area of the draw could be at a disadvantage but the very best PRB figure belongs to stall 8 at a whopping 0.64.

With the slightly random nature of the PRB data I’m going to look into the place percentages. Stalls 9, 10, 11 and 13 all perform relatively poorly here whilst some of the best performers are stalls 6, 8, 7, 3 and 5. It looks the case that you can run into decent finishing positions from any draw but the most important finishing positions, the win and the places, are most likely to be taken by those drawn in a low to middle area. However given the slightly random nature of some of this data I wouldn’t write off anything drawn high.

Pace

Hopefully the pace data will be a bit more straight forward to interpret.

Yes it is! The win percentages and the place percentages both follow a similar pattern whereby leaders have the best record, prominent is next, mid division is third best and being held up is worst of all. A win percentage of 19.51% for front runners and a place percentage of 43.90% look extremely impressive compared to the other run styles and it seems pretty clear that any runner getting even a whiff of an easy lead will need strong consideration.

In terms of volume, the most common run styles that win or place are prominent and it definitely looks a case of the closer to the pace the better.

Early leaders are profitable to follow for win purposes (Win PL of 17.50) and even more profitable for each way bets (EW PL of 30.63).

Coral Challenge Pace Map

So are any of these runners likely to get an easy lead at a course and distance that seems to suit front runners?

Very possibly is the answer to that. Marie’s Diamond is shown as the sole pace in the pace map but Maydanny is unlikely to give her an easy time of things up front. An early crawl probably isn’t likely given those pace options but they are unlikely to go fast either.

Magical Morning tends to sit just off the pace and that will almost certainly happen here, leaving him well placed. Montatham is another that tends to track the pace so he can potentially be upgraded slightly whilst the pace map may be slightly misleading as far as Acquitted is concerned. He often tracks the leaders but was bumped early last time out, dropped in trip, and didn’t get the early position he likes. Expect him to be on the prominent side of mid division.

Other than those runners this race is full of horses that like being held up. They won’t all be able to be held up here or many of them will end up very wide but those that race in mid division or even prominently might not be seen to their best if they are usually waited with.

Given the course pace data and this pace map I’d be extremely keen to side with one of those mentioned above as likely to be fairly prominent. It’s also worth noting that the ground could be slightly dead on Saturday if they don’t get much rain and it can often be difficult to make up ground on a lifeless surface at the best of times so we could see even more of a pace bias than usual.

Draw and Pace Combination

The draw data was slightly confusing for this race but perhaps looking at it in combination with the pace data could be helpful.

We have established that early pace could be key here but early pace from a high draw is far less effective than from a low or middle draw. Maydanny and Marie’s Diamond are both drawn high, as is the prominent angle Magical Morning.

Meanwhile Montatham and Acquitted, who can both race prominently, are drawn much lower. Low and middle draw PRBs of 0.71 and 0.68 for early leaders are extremely strong, but it’s unlikely either Montatham or Acquitted will lead. Prominent runners from either draw are also seen to good effect though.

A low draw could be deemed an advantage here but low draws that are held up have a PRB of 0.44, the worst of all the draw and run style combinations. Those that race in mid division do best from a middle draw, no great surprise given if they are drawn low they could get trapped on the rail. Sandown isn’t a course where you have much time to recover if you meet trouble in running.

This data suggests low to middle and leading or prominent are the best combinations, although mid division from middle draws can be good too. With not much early pace on dead ground mid division could still end up being too far back though.

The Runners

This is the full field for the Coral Challenge, in early odds order.

Montatham

Last year’s winner is now rated 109, 9lbs higher than when winning this last year, so this would be some weight carrying performance. He’s certainly earned that mark though. The runner up from last year’s race rated 7lbs higher that season whilst the 4th and 5th came out and won shortly after. That win came on fast ground, which Montatham wouldn’t necessarily want, so he can be marked up further from that.

Despite winning this last year off 100, Montatham wasn’t done winning handicaps. He won the Clipper Logistics handicap at York’s Ebor meeting off a mark of 104, beating Sir Busker who is now rated 8lbs higher. The 3rd was Top Rank, now rated 10bs higher and the 5th and 6th both won handicaps shortly after. Montatham has a habit of winning strong handicaps off high marks so he can’t be ruled out off 5lbs higher here.

He should be well placed and the ground will be fine so there are two main question marks. He hasn’t been sighted since the opening weekend of the flat season. He was third in a listed race on that occasion but ran as though the run would do him good. Having now spent 98 days off the track it's possible he’ll need this run too.

The other question mark is the booking of Adam Farragher as jockey, claiming 5lbs. He’s had 388 rides in the UK and Ireland meaning he has plenty of experience but he brings just a 5.15% win strike rate into this. He hasn’t ridden a winner since January – that’s 69 rides without a victory. He’s ridden five times for William Haggas and has gone well on his last two but doesn’t have a winner for him.

Acquitted

He seemingly has an inconsistent profile but he has a major chance on the best of his runs. He was successful twice as a 2yo and started life in handicaps chasing home no other than Palace Pier, getting 9lbs and a 3.25 length beating. His form tailed off on his next two starts and he subsequently missed the second half of last season and was gelded.

He returned this season in the Spring Mile, the Lincoln consolation race, and that race worked out particularly well.

All of the runners who finished in the first ten places who have run since have either finished 1st or 2nd, marking that down has hot form. You could argue Acquitted hasn’t gone on from there but the ground was probably too soft when dropped in trip at Ascot next time out. Acquitted has won on heavy ground but Hugo Palmer thinks he wants good ground – and pretty much nothing else! His run at Doncaster seems to back that up. He does have a good record on the all weather so it was no surprise he ran well at Chelmsford last time out despite everything seeming to go against him. He was bumped at the start meaning he couldn’t get a good early position and then he met trouble in running before staying on very well when in the clear.

The step back up to a mile here should suit, as should a return to prominent racing tactics used on his last few runs at this distance. The negative is a 4lb rise for being beaten almost 2 lengths last time out. Yes he was unlucky but the handicapper has very much taken the view of what might have been rather than the bare form. However coming into this 5lbs higher than when beaten just a neck in that hot Doncaster race isn’t the end of the world.

Magical Morning

Still lightly raced and the Gosden team could hardly be in better form. With Frankie Dettori on board he’s sure to be popular, especially with a potential pace bias in his favour. He was a bit disappointing in the Hunt Cup, ‘only’ finishing 8th and he very much got the run of the race on his final start at Doncaster last season and still found one too good. He’s possibly only averagely handicapped, for all he’s capable of improving, and he probably wouldn’t want any more rain with fast underfoot conditions coinciding with his best form. Dead ground might not be ideal either but he can’t be completely written off for this team with this pace setup.

Pythagoras

The sole 3yo in the line up and it’s possible he could race prominently, although he was held up two starts ago. That run came in the Dante Stakes where he was around 6 lengths behind the subsequent Irish Derby winner – not bad form. He was then ridden prominently when running okay in the Golden Gates Stakes at Royal Ascot. That run came on ground he had won on before and possibly proved this horse is no better than his current rating of 99. Connections will be looking for him to improve for the drop in trip, which maybe he’ll do, but he certainly needs to find improvement.

Ransom

Beaten a similar distance in two handicaps to date but is yet to receive any respite from the handicapper. Being trained by Sir Michael Stoute and having a lightly raced profile hasn’t helped with that, nor has it helped with the prices he gets sent off at. The soft ground probably didn’t suit last time out , in which case his third was a decent effort, and that form is working out just about okay. He was one of the few to get into it from off the pace that day too so can be marked up slightly. He’s not going to find it much easier to close late here though which is the main problem and reason to oppose. He’ll be of interest in other races at other venues but he’ll need plenty of luck here.

Trais Fluors

A winner over course and distance two starts ago before not getting much of a run when running a creditable 10th in the Hunt Cup. The race he won here was well run though and his best form has come on very fast ground so given he’s likely to be held up from stall 12 on dead ground he’s opposable.

Beat Le Bon

Second home on the far side in the Hunt Cup and has been in good form in recent starts. He’s definitely capable of winning a decent race off this sort of mark this season but he’s another that is best on fast ground off a fast pace and he’s unlikely to get the race run to suit.

Plantadream

Improved for his seasonal reappearance last time out when 3rd at Epsom, staying on well when it was difficult to get into races. He’s one to look out for at Lingfield, despite being rated 6lbs higher on the all weather, and although he’s capable of winning a small race off his current turf mark he doesn’t look well enough handicapped for this, especially with the pace setup unlikely to play to his strengths.

Escobar

Generally an Ascot specialist these days who is at his best with plenty of dig in the ground. Didn’t get his underfoot conditions in the Hunt Cup and finished well beaten but had previously run very well in the Victoria Cup. He generally goes quite well at this venue too, he has been 2nd in two previous renewals of this and one of those efforts was off just a 1lb lower mark. He’s handicapped to potentially run well but he’s yet another that would prefer a good gallop.

Marie’s Diamond

Just twelve months ago he placed in the Queen Anne Stakes and now finds himself running in this handicap off a mark of 105. He’s shown versatility with regards to the ground but the main problem seems to be his consistency. He ran well enough in the Earl Of Sefton Stakes on seasonal debut but has been below that form on his last two runs. He’s well handicapped on plenty of his form and poorly handicapped on the most recent two efforts. Getting an early lead here might help but there seem to be no pattern to his form to be able to determine whether or not he’ll turn up for this.

Maydanny

Still had only the ten runs despite seemingly being around for ages. He won two races by wide margins last season but was also below par on several occasions and that sort of inconsistency has been a problem this season too, finishing runner up in the Suffolk Stakes on seasonal debut before barely beating a runner home in the Royal Hunt Cup. Should enjoy a tactical advantage here but his best form in recent times has been on more undulating tracks, on faster ground and over further.

Accidental Agent

In okay form in two runs this season, running well in a Newbury handicap off a 1lb higher mark before a creditable 7th in the Queen Anne Stakes. Doesn’t seem to have much in hand on his current rating but isn’t badly handicapped either, the main issues here seem to be the need for a decent pace and probably being better on straight tracks. He appeals for something like the Balmoral Handicap later this year.

Orbaan

Arguably a bit disappointing for current connections, beaten in seven handicaps off marks north of 100. He returned this season in good form, finishing 5th in the Lincoln, but most of the winners who have come from that race were the runners who were well beaten. He had wind surgery after than and showed up well last week at Newcastle, held up in a slowly run race, traveling best and not beaten far. He’s another who isn’t badly handicapped but is likely to be poorly positioned here when the race gets going. I’d love to see him tried over 7f in a big field.

Bedouin’s Story

Well beaten in the Buckingham Palace Stakes when fairly well fancied and although this step back up in trip will probably suit he needs to come forward massively for that race, his first since February. He seems suited to speed favouring courses and a slowly run race around here is unlikely to play to his strengths.

Fantasy Believer

Can ruin his chances with slow starts and seems to be in the grip of the handicapper now, on turf at least where he is yet to win a race in twelve attempts. A mile and a good gallop are his conditions and he’ll probably only get one of those here.

The Verdict

Pythagoras isn’t completely ruled out if he gets a good early position but he doesn’t look brilliantly handicapped and is pretty exposed now for a 3yo. Maydanny and Marie’s Diamond could be the main beneficiaries of a pace bias assuming they don’t take each other on (Maydanny might just take a lead from Marie’s Diamond) but neither are consistent enough and both are drawn wide.

Magical Memory will definitely be well placed and represents in form connections and a top jockey. If the ground was likely to be fast he’d be worthy of some support but ground conditions may be slightly against him, even if it continues to dry out it will still be no faster than good and on the dead side.

That leaves Montatham and Acquitted as two who should be close enough to the pace who also have leading form claims. The absence since March is a slight concern for last year’s winner plus I’d have reservations about backing a jockey with a less than 6% strike rate riding a favourite, even if Montatham is a relatively straight forward ride. His handicap form from last season is top notch though.

ACQUITTED is the one I am most interested in here. I’ve been waiting to back this horse at a mile on good ground since his Doncaster run in March and even though his 4lb rise for his latest effort is a little harsh, he still looks well handicapped in the grand scheme of things. He seemed to take well enough to first time tongue tie and blinkers last time out and assuming James Doyle makes the most out of stall 2 by riding him prominently like he did in the Spring Mile (first ride on the horse since then) he should be able to go very close.

Several of those likely to be held up here will be of interest in the near future, particularly Ransom and Beat Le Bon, but it would be a surprise if the patiently ridden runners get into this.

Old Newton Cup 2021 Preview: Make It Aaddeey To Remember

Saturday is one of my favourite days on the racing calendar with the cards at Sandown and Haydock generally looking excellent betting material. This preview will be looking at the Old Newton Cup, one of the best middle distance handicaps of the season. This race will be run at 3.15pm at Haydock over twelve furlongs and this is a race for 4yo+.

The ground looks like it will be drying at Haydock, possibly leaving us on the fast side of good by the off time, although there are some showers forecast during the day. At the time of writing they are expected to remain light.

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Draw

A maximum field of seventeen are set to go to post here, with two reserves on standby if there are any early non runners. Is there a draw bias over this trip in big fields at Haydock?

Big fields aren’t the norm over this distance at Haydock so even if we include races with as few as 13 runners we still have a fairly limited sample size. We therefore shouldn’t get too carried away with the data unless seeing some very concrete results.

The overall draw data seems even, looking at the win data, but in small samples this can be misleading. The place percentage data has low and then high favoured over middle but with a smaller sample size we probably want to be concentrating on PRB as each runner is contributing to the data set, not just three or four runners.

The PRB figures for low, middle and high are 0.55, 0.49 and 0.46 which points towards the lower the better, with higher draws definitely having more work to do to get involved.

With a potentially strong draw advantage here, but also a small sample size, we’ll want to check how the individual stall data plays out. Firstly we want to see where a good draw starts to become a bad draw and secondly we need to check how legitimate the data looks in this smaller sample size.

Before we go any further, let’s establish how trustworthy this data is. The top five PRB figures for individual stalls are all 8 or lower, five of the worst six PRB figures belong to stalls 9 or above. This doesn’t look particularly random. If we sort all of this data by PRB3 the best performing nine stalls are the nine lowest drawn, the worst performing eight draws are all those in double figures. This definitely doesn’t look random.

It's not as though higher draws can’t win though. Stalls 15 and 16 have the second and third highest win percentages. Double figured stalls have won seven of the nineteen races examined. Also looking at the place percentages, stalls 16 and 14 have the best scores. A higher draw looks more like a penalty of a few pounds rather than a reason to completely oppose a horse.

Pace

Looking at a similar data sample, hopefully we can identify any possible pace bias for this race.

The win percentage data implies not much difference between front running, racing prominently or racing in mid division, with only being held up a disadvantage. There is some merit to the win data, it’s easier to run into the places against a pace bias than it is to win against a pace bias. However in this sample size the place percentage data is going to prove more reliable.

The place percentages tell us that leading can be most advantageous. Front runners have a place percentage of 28.57%, racing prominently is next best with a place percentage of 23.17% and although it drops again to mid division (19.48%) the runners that are held up perform almost as well as those who race prominently 22.43%. That suggests there isn’t a strong pace bias – yes any horse getting an easy lead is likely to outperform their odds but that goes for any race at any course.

In this particular race the pace setup of the race seems much more likely to cause a pace bias (either way) than the course does.

Old Newton Cup Pace Map

So here is the pace map for this race, compiled nicely for us by Geegeez Gold.

A potentially strong pace here which could compromise the chances of those ridden aggressively and improve the claims of the more patiently ridden runners.

The main pace angles are potentially Grand Bazaar, Lost Eden and Zabeel Champion who have led early on two of their last three runs. Brilliant Light can sit just off the pace but has also led in one of his most recent runs.

The likes of My Frankel and The Trader tend to race prominently and should keep the front runners honest throughout.

Draw and Pace Combination

This part of the draw tab is always worth checking in bigger fields.

Low draws seem to perform well regardless of their run style. There could be a concern about those in mid division from low draws but given those held up perform well from low draws, this could just be a quirk of slightly limited data.

For the horses drawn in the middle stalls it seems a front running ride can be a big advantage. The majority of the early pace in this race is drawn towards the middle so if they don’t go off to fast they are well drawn for that run style.

As for the higher drawn runners, those that race nearer the pace perform much better than those that race nearer the rear. Presumably being held up from a high draw results in them being dropped out and forfeiting too much ground early in the race to recover later in the race.

The Runners

These are the runners for the 2021 Old Newton Cup, in early odds order.

Longsider

A handicap debutant for Sir Mark Prescott. He was pencilled in to have his first run since February in last week’s Northumberland Plate over half a mile further but wasn’t deemed ready for that, connections deciding to get an extra week of work into him before going for this race. A potential early warning sign that he won’t be at his fittest.

His form does stand up though. He beat a nothing field over just an extended mile in January 2020 in easy fashion and improved for the step up to this trip last time out at Lingfield in a novice stakes, after just over a year off on stable debut, having previously raced for David Lanigan. He beat the now 89 rated Raymond by 2.5 lengths that day, giving him 5lbs. You could argue that he ran near a mark of 100+ that day the way he beat Raymond but if you watch the race back, Raymond was better than the bare result and has probably improved since for tackling longer distances. Either way a mark of 92 almost certainly underestimates Longsider.

There are negatives too though. He’s going to be breaking from the widest stall, he’s yet to run on turf (that shouldn’t be a problem though, his sire has a better handicap place strike rate on faster turf than all weather surfaces) and there is that doubt about how fit he is for this as he’s clearly been very difficult to train.

Grand Bazaar

A non runner at Royal Ascot due to soft ground and conditions will be more suitable here. He was steadily progressive last season on better ground and can certainly be forgiven a flop on his last start of 2020 which came over 14f on soft ground. He returned in good form at Newmarket when third, but only beaten a short head and a neck. The two that finished ahead of him both went on to place at Royal Ascot in competitive handicaps and it’s surprising that the handicapper left his mark unchanged after that effort.

He’s drawn okay in stall 8 but the question mark has to be field size. His wins last season were in field sizes of 6, 5 and 4 and his good run this season was in a 5 runner field. He hasn’t had many chances in bigger fields but was beaten in field sizes of 9, 10 and 11 last year and given his running style it stands to reason that he could be better in smaller fields. There is nothing wrong with his handicap mark or his form but whether he can run to that level here is open to question.

Aaddeey

A consistent runner who has had just the six starts. His form on good ground is 2121 whereas his worst two performances have come on soft and heavy. He was an okay 5th at Royal Ascot last time out and if not for the ground being an excuse you could easily argue that the handicapper has him pegged after a 13lb rise for a wide margin win at Newmarket on his previous start. On closer inspection though he could, and should, still be well handicapped.

On seasonal debut at Newbury, he was slowly away and strong at the finish over what now looks an inadequate 10f. He finished runner up in what has turned out to be a very strong handicap. The winner, who was less than a length ahead, is now running off a 13lb higher mark. Next time out Aaddeey won a small field Newmarket handicap by an easy 4.5 lengths so a 13lb rise seems fair, especially when you consider that the runner up won comfortably on his next start. The 3rd home, beaten 9.5 lengths, has finished runner up on both starts since so if anything a 13lb rise for that run looks quite lenient.

Given the ground went against him at Ascot, 5th in a strong race was a decent effort. He looks ready for even further already so a strong pace would help him (he’ll surely be a contender for the Ebor next month) and the only real negative is the draw. Stall 13 isn’t the end of the world but it isn’t ideal either, especially for one that is normally patiently ridden.

Valyrian Steel

A winner on his last two all weather runs at this distance, making his all weather form figures 111. In comparison his turf form figures now read 145. His turf win came against a now 66 rated maiden and he’s been well enough beaten in both turf handicap runs, weak at the finish on both occasions. His turf mark has gone up for winning on the all weather and even his all weather form doesn’t particularly stand up to much scrutiny, the 2nd, 3rd and 4th from his most recent (narrow) win have all been beaten since. Opposable.

Zabeel Champion

Trained by Mark Johnston, who has won three of the last eight renewals of this. Resumed progress this season and has now won five of his last nine starts. He was third last time out at Ascot, ahead of Aaddeey, but with conditions more in his favour. He’s consistent so being nudged up 1lb for his recent place isn’t a concern, it’s just a question of how much improvement does he have left in him after twelve starts? He doesn’t have to lead but will surely be very close to the early gallop and the inclusion of several other front runners in this field could compromise his chance in this, although there is no reason why he can’t run well again.

Midnights Legacy

Took advantage of a race rather falling apart on his most recent run, although he was handicapped to win a race of that nature. He’s four from eight on turf on the flat and has won two out of three here at Haydock, seeming not to stay on his only defeat here when tackling 14f. He’s the sort to continue running well but the winning distance of his last race, which hasn’t worked out, means he’s gone up 8lbs and others now look better handicapped in this.

My Frankel

Unbeaten in two all weather starts but only one from four on turf. He does have some good turf form to his name though. He beat the subsequently 87 rated Naswaary by 1.5 lengths in a Leicester maiden off a long absence and even ran okay in Palace Pier’s Sandown maiden over a trip that would have been far too short.

The key to My Frankel seems to be a fast surface and he hasn’t had that on his last two turf runs which have resulted in distances beaten of 36 lengths and 28 lengths. The ground is unlikely to be rattling quick here so you’d have to have some reservations but he’s capable of running well if transferring his all weather or fast turf form to this contest, for all stall 15 is a concern.

Dark Jedi

Improved by a stone last season after transferring from Charles Hills to Tim Easterby. His wins came at 9f and 10f but he was runner up to Euchen Glen in the Old Borough Cup here on soft ground so there are no question marks at all over stamina. That winner has since rated a stone higher whereas Dark Jedi is only rated 2lbs here so it’s difficult to make a case for him being badly handicapped, especially as he’s completely unexposed at 12f+.

He didn’t make his seasonal debut until a week ago and would need to improve on that run but it’s entirely possible that will have brought him on, with this potentially the plan all season. Even if he has come on for that he appeals more as a place bet than a win bet.

Pablo Escobarr

Highly tried throughout his career and successful at both listed and Group 3 level. He’s only rated 3lbs lower than his highest official rating which probably doesn’t leave him well handicapped, although he did place in a Meydan handicap off a 1lb higher mark on good ground over this distance, but was sent off favourite for that race so still ran slightly below expectations. Hasn’t been at his best on his two runs this season, finding only a little improvement in a first time visor last time out. That headgear is retained and a more truly run race here might suit him better but this requires a career best when he’s not running within a good few pounds of his best form this season.

Win O Clock

Disappointing at Ascot last time out given the ground had seemingly come in his favour, dropping away in the straight. He’s only been dropped 1lb for that run and whilst he is fairly handicapped when there is plenty of juice in the ground, he is almost certainly badly handicapped on fast ground. He’ll probably be well placed in this from stall 4 but that’s the biggest positive and unless they receive lots of rain on Saturday he’s very opposable.

Soto Sizzler

Runner up to Midnights Legacy last time out at Epsom, a course where he tends to run his best races. This looks a much stronger race and although the return to slightly better ground should suit, he’d only appeal against this field if the race was being run at Epsom. On this more traditional course he looks to have place prospects at best.

Brilliant Light

Still relatively lightly raced and has the run style to overcome stall 14. He’s run at trips between 10f and 14f this year, probably best suited by this distance on the balance of his form. He’s dropped 5lbs from his last two runs which still leaves him 6lbs above the rating of 93, off which he was 3rd in Meydan in February. That run was the last time he raced without headgear, which is left off here, and Marco Ghiani’s soon to be dispensed with 3lbs claim is very useful. The odds of around 18/1 probably underestimate his chances but his most recent runs have been disappointing.

Pirate King

Big improver on the all weather over the winter, winning four of his seven races. Hasn’t run since January but was due to run at Royal Ascot until the ground turned soft so shouldn’t be short of work. On his latest run he beat Midnights Legacy who reopposes here on 7lb worse terms so he’s well handicapped and overpriced on that form.

He has only raced on artificial surfaces in ten runs for Charlie Fellowes so it’s difficult to figure out if his improvement has been due to joining that stable or switching to the all weather. He didn’t look well handicapped on turf for Harry Dunlop off much lower marks but didn’t immediately improve when switched to the all weather for Fellowes. In fact his Kempton form doesn’t give him much hope here, all his improvement came at Lingfield. That has to be a concern here off a career high mark.

Scarlet Dragon

Made his move and hit the front far too early when looking for a repeat win of the Duke Of Edinburgh Stakes at Royal Ascot, ending up well beaten in the end. He’s now 3lbs higher than his 2020 Ascot success but he took advantage of some below par performances that day and given his best performances have generally come with plenty of cut in the ground under Hollie Doyle he has work to do here.

Alounak

Formerly smart but has not matched any of his old form since joining Andrew Balding at the start of last season. In fact he’s struggled to beat any runners home in the majority of his races but he has run well on soft ground at the last two Royal meetings at Ascot. He was runner up in the Hardwicke last season and wasn’t beaten too far in the Duke Of Edinburgh Stakes this year. This isn’t soft ground or Ascot though and he’s only dropped 2lbs which gives him ground to make up on the likes of Zabeel Champion and Aaddeey.

The Trader

Not the most consistent but capable on his day. He was well beaten last time out behind Midnights Legacy at Epsom and seemed in the grip of the handicapper on his previous run. Decent ground here will suit but even if he bounces back to his absolute best this is much deeper than anything he’s been competitive in before.

Lost Eden

He's been potentially overlooked slightly in the market here given he was disputing favouritism in the early betting for the handicap won by Midnights Legacy at Epsom. He was withdrawn from that race because the ground turned soft and that was also the reason he became a non runner at Ascot. Better ground here should therefore suit but he doesn’t look particularly well handicapped on what he's shown to date. He won a weak all weather novice in April by 9 lengths which gave the handicapper the unenviable task of giving him a rating. The runner up in that race was a now 66 rated maiden and Lost Eden, although remaining with scope to improve, has done little to suggest he can win this off 96.

The Verdict

There aren’t many at big prices here that make much appeal. Lost Eden is probably overpriced based on the ‘could be anything’ factor but his form doesn’t really back up his mark. Brilliant Light could run well at a price but he’s very risky based on his Royal Ascot reappearance. Dark Jedi could improve on his seasonal reappearance but the bookies have taken no chances with his price given he’s much more likely to run into a place than win.

Longsider is the one with loads of potential. Just a week ago though he was deemed to not be ready enough for the Northumberland Plate and he’s clearly been difficult to train so he is opposable at the price, especially from his car park draw.

Grand Bazaar has good enough form to win this but still has to prove himself in bigger fields and he shouldn’t get an easy lead here.

The best bet in this contest comes down to how much significance you put into the draw data. Zabeel Champion is a pretty safe bet from stall 7. If they don’t go a crazy pace he should be well enough placed, the pace data suggests the lead is the best place here and prominent racers have often done well in this particular race. He ran a rock solid race at Ascot, proving he is as good as ever if not miles ahead of his mark anymore. He's very closely matched with Grand Bazaar on their Newmarket form but Grand Bazaar may be too reliant on small fields.

At a similar sort of price to Zabeel Champion, AADDEEY seems the one capable of rating much higher. He’s still very lightly raced and has only been given one chance at this distance on decent ground and he beat a subsequent winner with limitless ease on that occasion. He’s much higher in the weights here but ran well on the wrong ground last time in a good race. It seems the only things that can probably keep him out of the frame here are a draw bias and a pace bias. He can race in mid division and there should be a good early gallop so the pace bias isn’t too much of a concern, it’s just the draw. With a lower draw he’d rate a confident bet but stall 13 isn’t so terrible that it can rule him out here. Mark Crehan even takes off a useful 3lbs, he’s two from four for the stable when riding single figure priced runners.

Coral Eclipse Trends

Run over 1m2f at Sandown Park racecourse in early July the Group One Coral-Eclipse Stakes is open to horses aged 3 or older and with 15 of the last 19 winners having already landed a Group One contest in their careers then it often attracts some of the best horses from around the world.

In recent years, we’ve seen 2 of the last 12 Epsom Derby winners from that season go onto land the Coral-Eclipse, while favourites have a decent record – winning 9 of the last 19 and being placed in 15 of the last 19.

Here at Geegeez, we look back at recent winners and highlights the key stats to be looking out for ahead of the 2021 renewal – this year run on Saturday 3rd July.

Eclipse Stakes Past Winners

2020 – Ghaiyyath (9/4)
2019 – Enable (4/6 fav)
2018 – Roaring Lion (7/4 fav)
2017 – Ulysses (8/1)
2016 – Hawkbill (6/1)
2015 – Golden Horn (4/9 fav)
2014 – Mukhadram (14/1)
2013 – Al Kazeem (15/8 fav)
2012 – Nathaniel (7/2)
2011 – So You Think (4/11 fav)
2010 -  Twice Over (13/8 fav)
2009 – Sea The Stars (4/7 fav)
2008 – Mount Nelson (7/2)
2007 – Notnowcato (7/1)
2006 –David Junior (9/4)
2005 –Oratorio (12/1)
2004 –Refuse To Bend (15/2)
2003 –Falbrav (8/1)
2002 – Hawk Wing (8/15 fav)

Eclipse Stakes Betting Trends

19/19 – Won by a horse aged 5 or younger
15/19 – Had at least 2 runs already that season
15/19 – Won by a previous Group One winner
15/19 – Placed favourites
14/19 – Placed in their last race
13/19 – Raced between 2 and 3 times that season
11/19 – Raced at Royal Ascot last time out (three won there)
9/19 – Favourites that won
5/19 – Won by an Irish-trained horse
5/19 – Raced in the Epsom Derby that season
4/19 – Trained by Aidan O’Brien
4/19 – Trained by John Gosden (4 of last 9)
6 of the last 14 winners won last time out
2 of the last 12 Derby winners of that season went onto win the race
The last 6 year-old to win the race was in 1886
The average winning SP in the last 19 runnings is 9/2
13 of out the last 16 winners had run in the previous 30 days
12 out of the last 16 winners were Group 1 winners
15 of the last 16 winners came from the first four in the betting
14 out of the last 16 winners had won over 1m 2f or further

 

Other Eclipse Stakes Trainer Facts

Aidan O’Brien won the race in 2011, 2008, 2005, 2002 & 2000
Sir Michael Stoute won the race in 2007, 2001, 1997, 1994, 1993 & 2017
Godolphin-owned horses have won the race in 2004, 1998, 1996, 1995, 2016 & 2020
Trainer John Gosden has won 4 of the last 9 runnings

 

 

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