Racing Insights, 12th June 2021

Last piece of the week from me and Saturday's free assistance comes in the guise of the excellent Trainer/Jockey combo report, whilst those looking for some free race cards can tuck into these...

  • 1.35 Sandown
  • 2.20 Hexham
  • 3.05 York
  • 3.55 Chester
  • 4.10 Limerick
  • 5.15 Limerick

And we're remaining at York for a small-field, competitive-looking Class 1 contest aka the 3.05 York, a 4-runner Listed contest for 4yo+ runners over 1m6f on good to firm ground. £22,684 is the prize on offer going to one of this quartet...

Only Red Verdon lacks a win from the last five UK races but he's the only course and distance winner here. All four raced in Class 1 company last time out, all bar Ranch Hand are previous winners here at York whilst Roberto Escobar is the only one yet to win at this trip. They've all raced in the last five weeks and bottom weight Makawee is best off at the weights based on (handicap marks) by 5 to 7lbs, whilst the Geegeez SR figures have Red Verdon shading it.

Ranch Hand is the highest rated here and carries top weight and comes here in great form. He signed off his 2020 Flat campaign by landing a 2m Listed contest at Newmarket back in September before a couple of efforts over hurdles (inc a Class 4 in over 2m1f) before bedding down for the winter.

Since returning in March, he has landed a pair of Class 2 2m races on the A/W (he's 4/4 on the A/W) then finished 6 lengths off the winner in a Group 3 race over an inadequate 1m4f before an excellent run next/last time out to finish second behind Lismore in the Group 3 Henry II Stakes at Sandown (2m) 16 days ago. The trip should be fine, but the ground might be a bit quick and he's better on artificial surfaces but jockey Oisin Murphy is 9 from 43 (21.4% SR) here in Class 1 races at York over the last five seasons.

Red Verdon won a Listed race at Doncaster almost a year ago and followed that up by winning a French Group 2 race a month later, the latter under today's jockey, Frankie Dettori. Sadly that win at Longchamps was his last and he's now on a run of 11 defleats, admittedly mainly in better races than this and was well beaten back at Longchamps (Gr2) last time out less than three weeks ago.

I do like this horse, but he needs to bounce back now in a technically "easier" contest. The trip will suit him and he won a Gr 3 over course and distance here in July 2019, he won't mind the quicker ground and in Frankie Dettori he has a jockey who consistently wins more than 1 in 4 at Class 1.

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Roberto Escobarr is worst off at the weights and with just four runs under his belt, is clearly the least experienced here. In his defence he won here on his second outing (C5 Novice), before finishing a creditable sixth here in the Gr2 Great Voltigeur last August. He then wasn't seen for 262 days before returning in a 15 length defeat in Listed company at Ascot and now will need to come on for that run. He has the scope to improve, he's unexposed, has very few miles on the clock, but this will be the quickest ground he has encountered and he's never gone beyond 1.4f before.

Makawee is a 6yr old mare carrying bottom weight and is technically well in by up to half a stone. She has raced twice already this season, going down by a short head in Listed company and then by 3.5 lengths in a Gr 3 here over corse and distance last month. She's a consistent sort who has made the frame in 11 of 24 starts, but her issue (as already proved this season) is that she often tends to get close without winning and has only converted those 11 places into 4 wins. The trip will be fine but she has a poor record here at York and a worse one in decent races, winning just 1 of 17 higher than Class 4. Sure to give her best again, but it's not usually enough.

Relevant career stats in a nutshell...

For the draw stats, I've expanded the going to Good / Good to Firm and the field size to 3-5 runners to get a better sample size, but I'm not massively convinced about draw stats over 1m6f if I'm entirely honest. I'm of the school of thought that says you've plenty of time to combat a draw over such a trip and if there's only four of you running, how far adrift can you actually be drawn?

That said, some stalls have fared better than others, as you can see here...

Why stalls 2 and 3 have all the glory is unclear, but you can't argue with facts, I suppose (and that's me telling myself off!) and this is good news for Roberto Escobar & Red Verdon, whilst the pace stats based on the same parameters suggest being held up would be the best tactic...

We know how our horses have been drawn and we also know how they tend to run, because we log the running style of every horse in every race and here's how these four have raced in their last two outings...

When we look at our unique pace/draw heatmap...

...it unsurprisingly favours hold-up horses drawn mid to low, as it combines the pace stats with those wins from stalls 2 and 3. We can then overlay that running style graphic onto the heatmap to get the following prediction...

Summary

Makawee is the favourite at priced ranging from 6/4 to 9/4 and based on the weight being carried and the numbers on her form line, I can see why. Yet closer inspection has showed she doesn't win often enough, has a poor record at Class 3 or higher and has tried and failed at York many ties, so I can't be backing her at those odds.

Roberto Escobarr is worst off at the weights and has achieved the least so far. I'm not saying he won't go on to win Class 1 races, but I'm not sure it'll be this one. Up in trip on faster ground and with a tendency to go off quickly, I fear he'll do too much too soon and as 5/2 second fav offers little value to me.

In fact it's the outsiders of the field that interest me most and I'm taking the 9/2 Red Verdon to best the 3/1 Ranch Hand here.

Ranch Hand is in fine form, stays all day and has a course specialist on his back. If he handles the quicker ground, he should give a good account of himself, but I'm hoping that's as second fiddle to Red Verdon. He is admittedly on a long losing run, but generally runs in better company than this, he's a course and distance winner, he has won on good to firm, has a good draw and pace/draw make-up and will be ridden by the King of the Class 1 races, Frankie Dettori. 9/2 in a four-horse race has to be worth a quid or two, win lose or draw!

Racing Insights, 11th June 2021

Crossbar rattling today, as 6/1 shot Typhoon Ten was a runner-up for the second time in a fortnight. Overnight favourite Muscika drifted badly in the betting and was well beaten.

Attention now turns to Friday's racing, where the Horses for Courses report is the feature of the day and our free races are as follows...

  • 2.45 Sandown
  • 3.30 York
  • 4.25 Fairyhouse
  • 4.35 York
  • 6.50 Aintree
  • 8.30 Aintree

I have no qualifiers on my settings for the , so it's back to the free races I go and the best of the six is the earlier of the two at York. So today's race in focus will be a a 7-runner, Class 2, 3yo+ Fillies handicap over 6f on Good to Firm ground. It's worth £17,524 to the winner and here's the card and some associated stats for the 3.30 York...

All bar Mid Winster have at won at least one of their last five with Mejthaam being the only LTO winner and she now comes here for her handicap debut here but she steps up three classes. Brazen Belle also steps up three classes, whilst it's a two-grade rise for Shepherds Way, Noorban and Ballintoy Harbour, who is having her second crack at handicap racing today.

With Gale Force Maya dropping down from Class 2, only Mid Winster actually ran in this grade last time out! All seven have raced in the past month and the age spread is 3-5. The weight is much wider with a huge 25lbs separated top and bottom weights, partly due to the 8lb weight allowance for 3yr olds here. The Geegeez SR ratings suggest a tight contest with just 8pts separating the first four ranked.

Gale Force Maya shoulders top weight of 10-0 back in handicap company having been well beaten in a Listed race LTO. She recorded her highest winning mark of 85 in the run before that Listed race, but runs off 92 here. She's 4/8 on Gd to Fm, 5/13 at this trip and 4/14 under today's jockey, but has never won higher than Class 4 and I think she might just be too high in the weights here.

Mid Winster has a modest 3 from 22 record to date and last won almost 9 months and six races ago at Class 5 over 5f, but has been knocking on the door with some solid efforts this term (3424). She was beaten by a length and a half off this mark at this grade LTO, but is now up in trip. She'll be in the mix, but she's better at 5f.

Shepherds Way ran well on her seasonal reappearance at Thirsk at the the start of May, getting within two lengths of the winner despite being off the track for 199 days. She then toiled on softer ground at Carlisle next/last time out and a step up in trip and class probably puts paid to her chances here.

Noorban won on debut last August and was immediately pitched into the Gr2 Lowther Stakes on her second outing where she had a respectable mid-division finish, before two lesser efforts including finishing 6th of 13 on handicap debut off a mark of 84. She returned from 196 days off to finish 8th at Thirsk in early May, but has since won over 5f off a mark of 80 and was a runner-up LTO off today's mark of 84. She's up in both trip and class here, but is definitely in with a shout thanks to the age allowance.

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Ballintoy Harbour has hit the ground running with decent efforts in all four starts to date. She was only beaten by 2.75 lengths on debut before winning back to back Class 5 Novice contests either side of a 242-day break from mid-August to mid-April. She then stepped up in class to finish third on handicap debut, 1.75 lengths off the pace, at Redcar at the start of this month. She's clearly progressing nicely and runs off an unchanged mark here, but she's up two classes and tries 6f for the first time.

Mejthaam has got steadily better in four starts so far, finishing 10th, 4th, 2nd and then 1st all at Class 5 and all on the all-weather. An opening handicap mark of 80 isn't particularly onerous, but she's up in class considerably (+3) and has never raced on turf or a quick surface. She's unexposed, but might just need that first run on grass.

Brazen Belle is a modest Class 5 handicapper if truth be told, hence her mark in the mid-70's and despite a career-best performance to win off 71 at Wolverhampton two starts ago, her flat form is poor having made the frame just once in her last seven starts. She was beaten by 4.5 lengths off this mark last time even with the assistance of a jockey claiming 5lbs and up three classes here with no claim, she's destined to struggle, I'd have thought.

Based on the above, all seven have questions to answer, but with the exception of Brazen belle, I think that any one of them could land this based on the evidence (or lack of) above, so we need more clues.

Instant Expert...

That's the general career stats under today's conditions across all races in all codes and it's good to see five winners on this quicker ground. The top two on the card have tried and failed several times in this grade, but Gale Force Maya's five class 2 defeats include four placed finishes and she's good at this trip.

And now considering purely Flat handicap form...

...where if anything, Gale Force Maya looks even stronger.

Draw & Pace stats...

We don't really have enough workable data under the draw/pace tabs for my liking for this type of race, so I'm going to use the Query Tool as a point of reference here, based on the following parameters...

Using those gives me a bigger sample sample to work with and here are the draw and pace stats from such races...

We've still, admittedly, only seven races to work from, but all the winners came from stall 2 or higher and the place stats would re-affirm that stall 1 isn't the best place to be. Stalls 2 & 3 are the best of the low draws, whilst out wide in 7 could be useful too. As for pace, it pays to lead if you want to win, but those tucking in behind the leaders tend not to fare too well. So, when I look at pace and draw together, I think I'm going to want stalls 2,3 and 8 wanting to lead or be held up and this is how this bunch have raced in recent times...

Brazen Belle is an out and out leader, but tends to not only get caught bit fails to even make the frame. Ballintoy Harbour and Gale Force Maya look like the ones most likely to take her on for the lead and whilst the latter isn't drawn well in box 1, Shepherd Way will be held up so GFM could drift off the rail into the vacated space alongside Brazen Belle. Ballintoy Harbour might end up doing too much if she approaches it like her usual 5f before being asked to go further.

The bottom three in the draw will look to sit off the pace and that hasn't always worked out here at York and probably wouldn't be a bad thing if Mid Winster made an effort to go after the leaders here on the quicker ground.

Summary

It's an interestingly tight-looking contest with no standout performer to hang my hat on, but I'd initially spilt the field and say I'm less keen on Shepherds Way (too much to do an up in trip/class), Mejthaam (big class rise and 1st time on turf) and Brazen Belle who I just don't think is good enough.

That leaves me with four and they still all have questions to answer....

Ballintoy Harbour is up two classes and tackled 6f for the first time.
Gale Force Maya isn't ideally drawn and probably carries too much weight.
Mid Winster hasn't won for a good while, has a poor Class 2 record, hasn't won on ground this quick and is better over 5f.
Noorban is up in both trip and class and a mid-div pozzy won't help.

To be honest, any of the four could win and they could come home in any order, but I'm leaning towards Gale Force Maya and Noorban as my two against the field at odds of 5/1 and 9/2 respectively. Those prices might well offer us a bit of value, but if you are playing this race, I'd advise caution on staking and just use your loose change here.

If anything, the sensible advice is to just put your money, your feet up and watch the race with the beverage of your choice, but who likes being sensible?

Racing Insights, 10th June 2021

Wednesday's short-priced favourite won relatively comfortably in the end, but we missed out on the forecast as Tinchoo could only finish third. Thursday's feature of the day is full free access to the Instant Expert tab for all readers for all races, including our races of the day which are...

  • 1.25 Yarmouth
  • 2.45 Nottingham
  • 5.30 Yarmouth
  • 5.40 Uttoxeter
  • 5.50 Leopardstown
  • 6.30 Haydock

The best of the UK races above is the second on the list, so today we focus on the 2.45 Nottingham, a 7-runner, Class 3, 4yo+ Flat Handicap over 6f on Good To Firm (good in places) ground and it's worth £5,927 to the winner. A brief look at the race suggested Muscika might be the main fancy, but let's delve further into the card itself...

Form : Only One Night Stand and Dancinginthewoods have a win in their recent formline and we've no LTO winners.

Class Movers : Muscika is down one class, whilst Typhoon Ten, Wentworth Falls, Dancinginthewoods and Caser key are all stepping up a grade.

Course/Distance record : All have won over this 6f trip, but only Wentworth Falls has won a race here at Nottingham.

Trainer Form : Positives for Lethal Lunch & Dancinginthewoods, but negative for Case Key

Jockey Form : Positives for One Night Stand & Dancinginthewoods, but negative for Case Key & Muscika

Last Race : All have raced in the last 45 days with Lethal Lunch, Muscika, Typhoon Ten and Case key rested for less than a fortnight.

OR/Weight/SR Spread : Top OR is 23lbs higher than lowest, but Muscika will carry top weight after claims and have 19lbs more than Case Key. The SR spread is greater at 36 from high to low, but the top six of the seven are only 21pts apart.

Lethal Lunch is probably better on the A/W (4 from 12) than he is on turf (2/16) but has been running pretty well over the last six weeks or so and only went down by a length and a quarter off this mark last time out. His turf form is a worry, though, but his yard are in decent nick.

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Muscika paid the price for doing too much early on when 2nd of 9 at Epsom five days ago. He was only beaten by a neck, though, behind a horse rated 4lbs higher and at a higher grade than this. He goes off the same mark today and running to his mark should be enough if the ground isn't a little too quick for him.

Typhoon Ten's last win was in a similar Class 3, 6f, Gd to Fm handicap off a mark of 86 in early August 2020. He has suffered 13 defeats since then but has finished 332 in his last three outings as his mark continues to drop. Luke Catton will take 7lbs off a mark of 87 and that should make him really competitive here.

Wentworth Falls was only beaten by 2.25 lengths at Thirsk last time out, giving a really good account of himself, but he's not getting any younger and stepped up in class off the same mark, you can only see him finding this more difficult.

One Night Stand won two of his last four in 2020, both over 6f and off marks of 73 and 80. He returned to action just over a month ago after a 21-week break and could only manage 16th of 18 off 85 (-3). He's down another pound but has no jockey claim, so technically 2lbs worse off and he's one to trust here off that mark, even if today's jockey (S de Sousa) rides this track well.

Dancinginthewoods won on debut but then didn't win any of the next nine starts, but has since finished first and then fourth in back to back Class 4, 6f handicaps at Leicester off marks of 78 and 81 respectively. It was good to soft for the 4th place LTO and he's much better on good to firm. A mark of 81 is probably still beyond him, but quicker ground will help and his yard have fared well here in the past

Case Key is the lowest rated horse in the race and he's fairly modest at best. 6 from 57 so far with just one win per year from 2015-20. Law of averages says he wins one this year, but I doubt it'll be this one. Reappeared 13 days ago after a 221 day absence to finish last of 6, beaten by nearly 40 lengths over 5f at Pontefract and now up in class of the same mark, he's not for me. His yard do well here, but they can't win them all!

Muscika still looks a fairly decent choice after the above, but plenty look like being capable of getting involved today. The only two I'd rule out would be One Night Stand and Case Key who should be the last pair home here. Overall and relevant form is available to us via Instant Expert, a far better traffic light system than the UK travel one!

What struck me first about the above two sets of data was the poor strike rates for a Class 3 contest. Further inspection showed just 32 previous wins for these seven runners at a strike rate of a mere 13.6% from 235 combined runs, highlighting inconsistency more than anything else. What that does do, though, is remind us that none of these are that much better than the rest and most of them could win. Lethal Lunch and One Night Stand are both 11lbs higher than thier last success, making this tough.

Draw Stats...

Stalls 1 & 2 are the place to be with almost 53% (18/34) of winners and 39.7% (31/78) of placers coming from those traps, which could be good for the with the extra 11lb weight, Lethal Lunch & Case Key!

Pace/Run Style Stats...

Those who race just off the pace fare best from a win perspective, although hold up horses just shade the place percentages. Leaders have an IV of 0.93, which is almost par and therefore deemed reasonable. The mid-division sample size isn't big enough to be considered reliable enough for me.

Draw/Run Style Combos...

Unsurprisingly, the low drawn prominent racer fares best, with the low hold up horse also winning more than once in five. All draw sectors and all pace profiles have at least one area of green, but mid-drawn hold up horses have struggled.

Race Heat Map Prediction...

It looks like Muscika will attempt to set the pace from stall 6 and that's the right thing to do from that draw. I'd then expect Case Key and Typhoon Ten to tuck right in behind, just ahead of One Night Stand, but I'd then expect Case Key and One Night stand to run out of steam in the final quarter mile and eventually go back through the pack. We've no real hold-up horse here, so even if Wentworth falls ends up as back marker, he's still likely to catch those two as they come back to the field.

Summary

This could well be a tight little affair between a bunch of unreliable horses not used to winning, but I'd expect that Musicka and Typhoon ten would be the main protagonists. The former is likely to be the favourite and I've not got much separating them, but I have a slight preference for Typhoon Ten to overturn the fav  here.

So, it's the 7/2 Typhoon Ten for me ahead of the 7/4 Muscika for me. As for the rest, Lethal Lunch's 7/1 looks generous.

Racing Insights, 9th June 2021

I had a feeling that Triplicate would struggle at Southwell today and he was indeed last home of seven, beaten by 48 lengths. I also thought it would be tight amongst what I though would be the three best horses, Atlantic Storm, Check My Pulse and Tardree and they were only separated by 2.5 lengths with 14 lengths back to the next horse.

Sadly that's as good as I got, as I didn't foresee the 14/1 outsider Siannes Star breaking a 13 race losing run spread over more than two years to finish 8 lengths clear of my trio. He defied a full line of red on Instant Expert and a poor pace prediction to romp home. As for main pick, Tardree, he led as expected until his jumping started to become sketchy which took its toll and he relinquished the lead 3 out.

So, we were there or thereabouts but without actually winning anything, so we move on to Wednesday. Feature of the day is the Trainer Stats report, whilst our free races of the day are as follows...

  • 3.20 Fontwell
  • 3.35 Yarmouth
  • 4.00 Cork
  • 4.35 Cork
  • 7.45 Hamilton

And when I look at my qualifiers from the 5yr handicap filter on my Trainer Stats report, I see that I've got a possible runner in the second of our free races...

What I should stress here is that I NEVER back qualifiers from any report blindly, it's just another factor to consider.

The presence of Duke of Prussia above means we should see what chance he might have in the free race, the 3.35 Yarmouth, which is an 8-runner, Class 6 3yo Flat handicap over 1m2f on good ground worth a mere £2,322.

Sir Mark's handicappers are actually 13 from 27 here since the start of the 2017 campaign at a strike rate of 46.15% (A/E 1.54) and under today's conditions he has managed an even better strike rate in the following five areas...

  • 71.4 % (5 from 7) at Class 6
  • 66.6% (12/18) with male runners
  • 57.1% (4/7) in 3yo races
  • 54.2% (13/24) with 3 yr olds
  • and 50% (3/6) in June

BUT, the following four areas haven't been as successful...

  • 41.2% (7/17) for jockey Luke Morris
  • 40% (6/15) with runners unplaced LTO
  • 33.3% (2/6) over this 1m2f trip
  • and 0% (0/9) at odds of 5/1 or bigger, where I suspect the Duke will be.

As for the race itself...

Not much form to write home about, but plenty of stats on offer (red numbers under horse's name), two handicap debutants, three having their second crack and a couple of class droppers. We've a fairly big 17lb handicap spread with the Duke rated the worst here by the assessor and we've plenty of positive trainer/jockey icons.

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To be honest, it looks a fairly mediocre race between eight mediocre three year olds with Mustazeed's third place finish the last time out being the only time any of these have made the frame in a combined 34 efforts! Unsurprisingly, the early tissues suggested he'd be a fairly warm favourite, but with a string of unproven runners, we might a decent priced E/W punt. After all that 1 place from 34 (2.94%) will leap to 9.52% (4 from 42) after the race! 😉

Mustazeed unsurprisingly heads the weights as well as the markets after a decent third of twelve on his handicap bow three weeks ago. He ran on well late on shaped as though the extra furlong or so might help today and there are some positive stats to back up his claim...

True Courage was beaten by 36 lengths on handicap debut last October and returned to action at Bath 30 weeks later last month to go down by 14 lengths. There's a glimmer of hope in the stats below, but you'd really need True Courage to back this one!

Knight of Kings has raced just three times to date and has been beaten by 11, 10 then 14 lengths at trips ranging from 7 to 8.6 furlongs for two different trainers. His current yard is 1/48 over the last 50 days, but did win 2 of 9 here last season. This one is probably the worst of a bad bunch.

Stigwood wasn't beaten by far in a pair of higher grade Novice races last term and although well beaten last time out, he does have the benefit of having seen this trip out on similar ground. If he can put last term's Class 4/5 form into this longer trip, he might have a sniff of some money.

Alaskan Lady wasn't disgraced when within 5 lengths of the winner on handicap debut at Bath four weeks ago despite not having raced for six months. Much will depend on how she bounces back and how she copes with an extra quarter mile, but her yard has been amongst the winners of late.

Dubai Emperor never raced as a 2yr old and all three career starts have been in Class 5 contests over 7f in march of this year, where he was beaten by 10.5, 18 and 12 lengths. Big step up in trip, but breeding suggests he'll prefer longer than 7f and he has a stack of positive stats behind him. Like the horse above, if he gets the trip, he might also get a place.

Tinchoo was 4th over a mile and 4th over 1m2f almost three weeks ago either side of a 190-day absence. She stayed on well last time out on soft ground and you'd hope she'd strip fitter for that effort. Quicker ground here makes it less arduous, she's eased a pound and jockey Tom Marquand has already ridden ten winners this month and is 17/88 (19.3%) here since the start of 2019.

Duke of Prussia is our Trainer Stats report horse and is down 2lbs for his second crack at a handicap after finishing well down the field at Carlisle a fortnight ago. He was up in trip from 7 to 11 furlongs that day and hadn't raced for seven months, so it's possible he could kick on today. The yard is in good form and we know about the stable's record here at Yarmouth...

Instant Expert isn't going to tell us anything positive about a field that has made the frame once in 34 attempts, but it might tell who's the least poor by showing which horses have already failed under today's conditions too often!

I said it wouldn't tell us too much!

From a draw perspective, we only had ten 8-runner contests to refer back to, but by expanding the field setting to 7-9 runners, it gave us 21 races to consider, which would be a more reliable benchmark and of those 21 races, you'd want to be in the first three stalls, although stall 8 was easily the best of anything higher than 3...

...whilst the worst pace profile for such a race was to be held up, but at an IV of 0.88, that's really not to bad for worst for four possibles...

Obviously mid-division looks the place to be, but 23 runners is a small sample size that might not be entirely reliable. However, we can only deal with what's in front of us and the inference from above is that if you ran in mid-division from stalls 1-3, you'd surely have a great chance?

Yes, it certainly looks that way! But in fairness, all four running styles have at least 2 green blocks from 3 and all draws have at least 2 greens from 4, so plenty of successful combos here. And when we look at how these eight runners have ran on their last couple of outings...

...it looks like Alaskan lady will set the pace. She's got a good draw in stall 8, but leaders from out wide have fared poorly in the past. If they they break out like the above, then third pace rank Stigwood is actually going find himself as a prominent runner up with Trur Courage and from stall 2, he could get a really handy position.

Summary

Based on pace/draw, you wouldn't be rushing to back Mustazeed and you'd probably be even more reluctant when you see him priced as low as even money. He's the most likely to succeed here, but I can't be backing him at Evens.

I also like the chances of both Tinchoo and Stigwood for the places and I don't have that much between them and I also don't have them very far ahead of either Alaskan Lady and Dubai Emperor and it could well be a really tight scrum at the end. Much will depend on whether Alaskan lady gets clear and by how and then if she can hang on. I'd suspect not.

Tinchoo is best priced at 15/2, which id borderline E/W territory for me, but Stigwood is worth a quid or two at 14/1 e/w. Alaskan Lady is also of E/W interest at 12/1. I'll have two small punts there in the hope that at least one makes the frame.

As for featured horse Duke of Prussia. I think he beats Knight of Kings but not many, if any, more.

Racing Insights, 8th June 2021

Funny race at Leicester this afternoon, Wolflet disappointed but my second best, Cruyff Turn, made all to win pretty comfortably by 3.5 lengths. He's not nornally one to set the pace, but our pace/draw heatmap for this race suggested mid-drawn runners who led were the most successful runners and from stall 5 of 8, Cruyff Turn validated the data.

The Shortlist report is Tuesday's free feature, highlighting horses known to perform well under the conditions they'll face next, whilst our free races of the day are...

  • 1.50 Roscommon
  • 2.00 Southwell
  • 2.20 Wolverhampton
  • 3.00 Roscommon
  • 4.30 Salisbury
  • 5.30 Wetherby

The first of the UK races on that list is the best of the four, it also contains a runner from The Shortlist report...

...who we backed successfully last time out, so we can tie it all together by analysing the 2.00 Southwell. Sadly, only 7 are set to run, so just two places available for this Class 4, 5yo+ Handicap Chase over 2m on Good ground. The prize is £3,594 and here are our runners...

Form : Four of the field (Sarasota Star, Candy Burg, Tardree & Atlantic Storm) have won at least once in their last five starts with Tardree & Atlantic Storm winning LTO.

Course/Distance form : All bar Sarasota Star have won over this trip with Atlantic Storm the only course & distance winner and also the only previous Southwell winner.

Last Ran : Triplicate returns from four months off, but the others have all raced in the past 23 days.

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Weight Spread : Just 11lbs separate top and bottom weight here.

Trainer/Jockey Form : Trainers of Triplicate, Tardree, Sarasota Star and Candy Burg all have positive recent form indicators (14 and/or 30) with the former also having a good last 12 months here at Southwell (C1) whilst the latter hasn't fared quite so well (C1). We've in-form jockeys on Siannes Star, Tardree and Candy Burg with the first one also having a good short and long term record here (C1 C5) and the latter struggling like his trainer (C1)

Triplicate is joint top rated here off 122 and now makes a UK debut and yard debut after 19 previous runs for a couple of the O'Brien clan in Ireland. He won a couple over hurdles back on Aug/Sept 2018, but is now on a run of 13 defeats and in 8 efforts over fences, the nearest he has come to winning is 12.5 lengths off the pace, when 7th of 10 at Galway in October!

Tardree is The Shortlist horse that we backed five days ago as he became the latest Laura Morgan Class 4 chase winner. Two wins and two places from five so far, one from one over fences after last week's Uttoxeter success at this class/trip/going and the manner in which he won by 6.5 lengths suggests a 7lb rise in weight might not be enough to stop him.

Sarasota Star won back to back 2m1f handicap hurdle races at Carlisle in the autumn, but struggled in four runs at higher grades after those successes. He was beaten by 18.5 lengths last time out, but drops markedly in trip (-5.5f) and is down a class and eased 2lbs for his chase debut. His last win was only off 2lbs higher than today, so if taking to fences first time out, he could well get involved.

Siannes Star is also on a 13-race losing streak that now stretches back over two years and has yet to win over fences after eight efforts. Results have improved as his mark has tumbled this year, but he was still only third of four here over course and distance last time, beaten by 8.5 lengths and I don't think taking another pound off his mark will help much.

Atlantic Storm won a class 3 chase over this trip at Hereford off a mark of 111 last October and was a winner here over 2m1f on soft ground last time out, beating Larch Hill by three quarters of a length off a mark of 109. He was running well enough between those two wins, but a mark of 113 would be a career-high win.

Check My Pulse was only beaten by just over a length and a half off today's mark of 112 on his chase debut at Cartmel ten days ago and the drop back in trip should help. The two horses that beat him were 17lbs and 18lbs better off at the weights and he should come on for the run.

Candy Burg carries bottom weight here and runs off a mark of just 113, but closer inspection shows that's just 2lbs lower than his last two runs that have seen him defeated by 46 lengths and 6 lengths and he's still 9lbs higher than his win at Ffos Las three starts ago. That said, he did win by 14 lengths that day and is 4 from 11 over fences. The problem with him is that he seems to either win or gets beaten by a long way. That last win came after 9 straight losses over almost 18 months by a combined 374 lengths. So if it's either win or lose by 40 lengths, he's not to be trusted.

To date, this field have made the frame in 53 of their 153 combined starts (34.6%), going on to win 23 of them (15%) and here's how those figures stack up under today's conditions...

From the above general stats, the only real alarm bells come for Siannes Star with a line of red, whilst our Shortlist runner, Tardree looks well suited but for his 12lb weight rise. With those numbers above in mind, we can now be a little more specific and look solely at chase handicaps...

Again, Tardree looks good based on that debut run alone, but the past form of Candy Burg also catches the eye as long as you remember his inconsistency.

We've no stalls and therefore no draw data to deal with, but pace is often overlooked in NH contests. People often think pace = speed and the name can be misleading and tempo might be a better way of describing it. Some TV commentators talk about a "pozzy" and they're really referring to pace/tempo as it's all relating to race positioning ie where you put yourself in the pack.

And in 47 previous 6-8 runner handicaps here under similar conditions, the inference is very clear to me...

...grab the lead and hold on to it. If you can't lead, get up with the pace, otherwise it's going to be tough and based on our runners last four runs, this is how we think the race will unfold...

Tardree is an out and out pace setter with pace score of 4 in each of his last four runs, whilst Atlantic Storm has 4 x 1's. Tardree is massively up in weight, but won so convincing from the front last time out under the in-form Adam Wedge that you'd expect similar tactics today. In fact Adam's record on Laura Morgan's chasers since New Year's Eve reads 1112151!

Summary

After my first view of the card, I was most drawn towards Atlantic Storm, Tardree and Check My Pulse in that order, but I'm not sure about Atlantic Storm having gone through my process. I know a 4lb rise isn't huge, but he'd need a career best to win here and at the age of 9 with 43 races under his belt, that's not something you'd expect to happen. Plus he's a hold up horse nowadays and that'll make it tough if Tardree pours it on early. I'm doubtful whether Atlantic Storm even beats Check My Pulse now, that could be tight.

Tardree, of course, is up the thick end of a stone, but is unexposed and looked to have plenty in hand when winning by 6.5 lengths on chasing debut last week. He'd be entitled to come on for the run and overcome the huge penalty, so at 2/1 (was 3 earlier!) I'm with Tardree again.

Racing Insights, 7th June 2021

A good end to the week for us with a 9/1 winner in the shape of Parent's Prayer on the Derby card. She won impressively, making all from start to finish and staying on well to the end. I'd said she'd like the softer ground and the pace tab told us that leading was the best tactic. Put the two together and we were never going to be far wrong. The icing on the cake came in the shape of her being sent off at 4/1, meaning we got some real value from our bet.

We don't, however, rest on our laurels at Geegeez after a good day, just as we never get too downbeat after a poor one and that's because there's always another day to tackle. Monday racing is generally not great, but the afore-mentioned Pace tab is free to all readers for all races to give us some assistance, whilst the fulle free racecards are for the following races...

  • 1.00 Leicester
  • 2.35 Listowel
  • 3.20 Gowran Park
  • 3.30 Leicester
  • 3.35 Listowel
  • 8.30 Windsor

I had a quick flick through the cards and the second of the Leicester races looked interesting at first glance. Not the best race, but it looks competitive for the grade. Bookies should pay three places too, so there could also be an E/W angle in the 3.30 Leicester, an 8-runner, Class 4, 4yo+, flat handicap over a mile on good to firm ground that is expected to be good in places. The prize is £4,347 and these are the runners trying to land it...

Form : Only Cruyff Turn, Visibility, Wolflet and Moretti have won any of their last five outings and we've no LTO winners on display here

Class : Cruyff Turn and Wild Hope both ran at this Class 4 grade last time out, but the other six are all stepping up from Class 5.

Last run : Cruyff Turn, Wild Hope and Wolflet have been seen in the last three weeks. Moretti and Visibility have had short 8/9 week rests and Malvern last raced 16 weeks ago. We haven't seen Mr Tyrell in almost six months and it's over 8 months since Top Secret graced a track.

Age/Sex : Five of the eight are aged four with Wild Hope (5), Moretti (6) and Mr Tyrell (7) the older horses. Wolflet and Moretti are the only females here.

Course/Distance form : No previous winners here at Leicester, but Cruyff Turn, Wild Hope, Wolflet and Moretti have won at this 7f trip.

Trainer/Jockey form : Top Secret's yard seem to be in good form (14), whilst the handlers of Mr Tyrell and Malvern both have good long-term records at this venue (C5). We've a trio of in-form jockeys (Top Secret, Mr Tyrell, Malvern), but Tom Eaves (Wild Hope) could do with a change in fortunes. Ryan Moore (Mr Tyrell), Hollie Doyle (Wolflet) and David Egan (Moretti) have good Leicester records.

Weight/SR spread : The handicapper says there's a 21lb spread in ability here, whilst the SR ratings have a 27pt spread with the suggestion that it could be tight between Wolflet, Vsibility and Moretti.

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Cruyff Turn carries top weight of 9-11 off a mark of 82 here, the same mark as he ran from last time out thirteen days ago when only 8th of 9, beaten by 17 lengths over 1m1f at Musselburgh on soft ground. He dis win off 77 two starts ago also over a trip further than a mile and it's interesting that he drops back to 7f for the first time in 5 races/9 months since winning at Redcar off 72. He only won narrowly that day and I think he's better over further than today and off a mark in the 70's.

Wild Hope won a 1m Class 4 handicap at Doncaster in late July of 2020 off today's mark, which should be a positive, but that's his only decent performance on turf in eight efforts stretching back to early August 2019. He has also failed to win any of five A/W starts since that turf win and with jockey Tom Eaves also struggling for form, this one doesn't appeal to me.

Top Secret has only raced three times so far and was 6th of 11 on handicap debut over 6f at Kempton off a mark of 77 some 256 days ago. Since then he has changed yards and reappears off 2lbs lower, but up in trip, up in class and running on turf for the first time. He could be anything, but I wouldn't want to get involved today.

Mr Tyrell hasn't been seen for almost six months and when he did last race, he was only 6th of 12 over a mile at Kempton at a lower grade. Hasn't won any of his last 17 starts in 25 months and has won just 2 of 40 to date. I think he'll be 2/41 this time tomorrow.

Visibility is 0 from 4 on turf and hasn't quite kicked on from winning at Wolverhampton at the end of February, losing all four since, but not getting disgraced in any of them. He has gone down by around 4 lengths in each of his last two on turf, fading late on each time and a drop in trip/mark might get him closer to winning here, but he'd need things to fall his way.

Wolflet looks (on paper, at least) to be the best of this bunch and this young filly was a winner over this trip at Lingfield just three starts ago and was a runner-up over course and distance here last time out. The winner that day has since only been beaten by 1.75 length at this class/course/distance/going off a mark of 80, so Wolflet's lowly 65 could be lenient, not withstanding her 0 from 6 record on grass.

Malvern opened his career with a pair of wins in Good to firm, Class 5, 6f, novice contests in July/August 2019, but that appears to have been his peak! Since then he has finished 20/20, 17/17, 14/16, 13/13, 7/9 and 7/11 as he has slid from a Class 2 mark of 86 to a Class 5 run off 67 LTO. He's dropped another 3lbs here and has a 3lb claimer on board, but the step up in class is a concern after a near four month break and losing is habit-forming. I'll be surprised if he beats many/any here.

Moretti has won two of her last five, both by less than a length off marks of 58 in Class 5 handicaps over this 7f trip. That's probably her level, as she's 0 from 10 any higher than 58, so 61 here might be a bag and a half of sugar too much. A bit like the lager that shares her name, Moretti looks OK here, but not special.

When I first started writing this piece, one of the things I said was that it looked competitive. I still maintain that thought, but it does look like being a contest to see who can be the least poor. 75% of this field are stepping up from Class 5 and most of them can't win at that level, so Lord alone knows what they're doing here. At present, I've got this as Wolflet's to lose and then a scrum for the places behind. I'm expecting the Instant Expert numbers to be painful reading, so let's torture ourselves by looking...

In fairness, the overall tallies above aren't as bad as I feared they might be, but we should now dig down and look at relevant Flat handicap form...

Both of the above would appear to throw a spanner in the works for Wolflet off an admittedly small sample size and there's some interesting blocks of green for the likes of Cruyff Turn and Wild Hope on the going and Moretti's 7f record in Flat handicaps (albeit off marks in the 50's).

In similar previous contests, stall 6 has an unusually poor record, but if we ignore that, then there's really no discernible draw bias for an 8-runner handicap over 7f on good to firm/good ground, as shown here...

Which, of course, means that race positioning /  pace may well be the key to horses winning or losing here today. Our data from the races above is a little clearer/helpful here. The basic premise of a 7f handicap here at Leicester is what a doorman might say to an unruly drinker "Get out and stay out!"

Essentially the quicker you get away from the stalls and the further forward you race, the more chance you appear to have of winning/making the frame...

And that is particularly true for those drawn middle to high in the stalls, whilst low drawn runners fare better tucked in behind the leaders...

We can (and will!), of course, use the data available to us from these horses' past outings to make an informed guess as to how they might tackle this contest and when we arrange the field into draw order and superimpose it onto the heat map we can almost get a bird's eye view of how the race might unfold. The caveat here of course is that these are unreliable runners who might change tactics, especially as their current ones aren't particularly successful. But here's how our data suggests they'll run...

There really doesn't seem to be much pace in the race at all. Based on their last four outings, only Wolflet has set the pace and her default positioning is prominent. I'd expect her to take this on today and she could well have the race won quite early if she opens up enough daylight between her and the pack. I said earlier that it initially looked like hers to lose with a scrum behind her. That's also what the pace tab says.

Summary

It looks like Wolflet's race to lose, but I don't think she's very good yet : she's just the least bad of a fairly bad bunch. This is really an average Class 5 contest masquerading as a Class 4 and that's where Cruyff Turn and Wild Hope might profit. They have decent enough records at this grade and the latter has won off today's mark. When I was compiling the piece, I was thinking that the likes of Visibility and/or even Mr Tyrell might be the ones best placed to make the frame, but I'm going to side with Class here.

Wolflet is my winner here with Cruyff Turn and Wild Hope as my tentative picks for the places. Both placers are proven at this grade, the former has a good pace/draw make-up and the latter might be overpriced.

Wolflet is available at a best priced 5/2, which is just about reasonable. She's as short as 6/4 in places but I wouldn't want to play at those odds. Cruyff Turn is 11/2 and Wild Hope is at 10's generally. I'll have an E/W nibble at those odds.

 

 

Racing Insights, 5th June 2021

Last piece of the week from me, and Saturday's 'feature of the day' is the Trainer/Jockey combo report and our free 'races of the day' are...

  • 1.50 Listowel
  • 2.30 Doncaster
  • 2.35 Epsom
  • 3.20 Tramore
  • 4.00 Musselburgh
  • 5.00 Worcester

The Epsom race is clearly the best of the six freebies, so let's see if we can unravel the 2.35 Epsom, aka the Princess Elizabeth Stakes. It's a 10-runner, Group 3 contest over 1m½f for 3yo+ fillies and mares. The going is officially said to be Good to Soft and these are the runners competing for a first prize of £39,697...

A decent enough field here, even if it doesn't look like the strongest Group 3 contest you'll see this summer. Only Tomorrow's Dream and Thank You Next are winless in their last five runs, whilst Lottie Marie and Illykato both won last time out. Lottie Marie is the only previous distance winner here and now steps up two classes, but the rest of the field raced in Class 1 company last time out. We have no course winners!

We've plenty of positive trainer/jockey form icons, the 3 yr old runners 7 to 9 look best off at the weights thanks to their allowances with numbers 1 and 5 the worst off. Prayer's Parent is a clear leader on the SR ratings.

Lottie Marie has been running really well on the A/W winning three times from her last five starts and finishing as a narrowly beaten (SH then NK) runner-up in the other two, but this is much tougher stepping up from Class 3 and her turf form isn't good. She's the worst rated on handicap marks and she'll struggle here.

Maamora won back to back 1m handicaps at Class 3 then Class 2 in the summer of 2019 before taking almost a year off. She returned to action to land a Group 3 contest over a mile at Sandown and then went back into the shed for 251 days prior to returning to racing at Goodwood five weeks ago. She was 5th of 6 in a 1m Listed race that day, but she was only 1.5 lengths adrift and could well have needed the run after only one previous outing in the prior 600 days! Every chance of making the frame here.

Parent's Prayer acts on softer ground and ended her 2020 campaign with a 3rd place in a Group 3 race and then by winning a Listed contest. Two runs this year have seen her finish as a runner-up in a Group 3 ove1m on soft ground and then she was beaten by less than a length last time out in another soft ground Gr3 affair, but over 7f. Definite chance here now that the ground is softer than would have been expected.

Posted won a Listed race at Sandown three starts ago, but has been beaten by 4L and 7L in two starts since and that win is her only success in 11 Class 1 races, where she has just 1 other placed finish (also at Listed class). 7f is probably her best trip and she's better on quicker ground and although she has ability, she tends to find at least one or two better than her. That'll probably happen here too.

Queen Kahlua's UK form amounts to a sole run in a listed event at Nottingham four weeks ago, when she was beaten by almost 6 lengths over 6f on heavy ground. She won twice over 7f in France, but was beaten 12 times and this looks set to go the same way.

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Tomorrow's Dream is a handy handicapper, finishing 121 in three attempts, but she won at Class 5 and Class 3 and this is a far different game. She's had four cracks at Listed company finishing 7356 and this looks far too tough for her.

Illykato is unusual in this race as she's coming here off the back of both her best effort to date and also a Class 1 win. She stayed on well to nick a Listed event at Goodwood five weeks ago and has good Class 1 experience for a 3 yr old with 5 of her 7 starts being at Listed or better. She's in good nick and the 12lbs she receives from the top half of the card will be very useful.

Nazuna has the makings of a decent filly and has raced just five times so far. She won a maiden at Doncaster on her second outing and followed that up by finishing 2nd of 15 in a Class 2 handicap, beaten by just three quarters of a length over 6.5f at the same track. Her last UK run saw her improve again to get within 2 lengths of the winner, when second in the Group 2 Rockfel Stakes at Newmarket last September. Her only other run saw her go down by 6.5 lengths on the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf. I'm sure she'll go on to good things, but I'm concerned about her 7 months off track and this being her first UK crack at a one mile trip and also that she's unproven on softer ground.

Statement finished 221 in maidens last Autumn, winning on heavy ground. She returned from 177 days off track to almost land the Gr3 Fred Winter at Newbury in mid-April, but the game Alcohol Free held her off by a short head and although she was only 8th of 11 next/last time out a fortnight ago, that was the Class 1 1,000 Guineas and her first time over a mile, but she still got to within 6 lengths of the winner. A similar run puts her right in the mix here!

Thank You Next completes the line-up and I'd not be surprised if she's the last on the results list too. Finishes of 3131 in her first four outings (2 x novice and 2 x nursery) suggested a bright future, but she's winless in seven races since, making the frame just once. Better on the A/W and better over 6 or 7 furlongs, there's much not much hope here.

These 10 have a combined 89 UK/Ireland runs behind them, making the frame in 46 (51.7%) of them and going on to win 22 (24.7%) races. These are great numbers, but how much of their past form is actually relevant here? Instant Expert as the answers...

Those short on time can always use the place stats above to create a quick shortlist and if you ignore the field column and then focus on the ones with most green, you won't often be too far out.

However, 22 wins spread across 9 runners (Queen Kahlua has no UK/Ire form to speak of) isn't much and certainly not enough to paint a wholly accurate picture...

...but does still provide some pointers.

Now, Epsom is known to be tricky to ride, but there doesn't actually appear to be much of a draw bias here for 10 runners at this kind of trip on Good to Good/Soft ground...

Again, as I often do, I'm going to declare the numbers for stalls 5 & 6 as anomalous and it makes no sense to me that just two stalls can be so much worse, especially as stall 7's place stats seem artificially high too. So, for me, nobody is ruled out here on draw.

Pace, however, is a different story. Hold up horses do terribly, but the other three running styles all fare better than expected and the further forward you race, the better you seem to do...

And from a pace/draw combination...

...lowly drawn leaders and a mid-division position from a high draw are the two best situations to be in. The middle stalls that didn't loo great on the draw stats (that I'm choosing to ignore 😉 ) can still win, but do need to get out race up with the pace. And based on how these horses have raced in their last couple of outings is how we see them breaking out from the stalls...

The pace looks to be in the top half of the draw with Maamora leading the way. Stalls 8 & 10 will follow her and I think that pulls Statement further to the left on the chart as she might well set off a little quicker to keep in touch.

Summary

I've got it as a three horse race in my mind. I see Maamora setting the pace, but getting tired after a lack of race fitness. If i see it right, she finishes just outside the places and I've got her closely matched with Nazuna, who has ability, but probably just won't get there this time.

This leaves me with Parent's Prayer as my pick ahead of both Illykato and Statement. She'll relish softer ground, gets the trip and is proven at Class 1. At current odds of 9/1 with Hills, I'm more than happy to get involved with Parent's Prayer.

As for the runner-up, I don't have much on my figures between the two, but Statement shades it on my write-up, Instant Expert and even pace/draw, so it makes sense that she's my backup at 9/2 with the more than capable 7/1 shot Illykato also in the frame.

Racing Insights, 4th June 2021

We got the first two home at Uttoxeter this afternoon/early evening, as the money that came in for Tardree was justified, once again showing how good Laura Morgan is at getting her chasers home. If you did want to follow some of Laura's runners, these might be worth a second glance...

Sadly I'd got the 1-2 the wrong way around today, but made enough from the 6.2/1 exacta to cover my win stake, hopefully some of you did the same.

The weekend is almost here and every Friday, we make the Horses for Courses report available to ALL readers. It does pretty much what you'd expect ie shows horses who have previously gone well at the track they're racing at that day. We also, have a list of free racecards each day and on Friday, they are...

  • 3.00 Catterick
  • 3.10 Epsom
  • 6.30 Goodwood
  • 7.23 Doncaster
  • 7.45 Tramore
  • 8.05 Down Royal

Now, the 3.10 Epsom race (Coronation Cup) is clearly the best of that list of races, but with a red hot favourite and the bookies only paying two places, we defer to next best, the 7.23 Doncaster. It's no Coronation Cup, of course, but it's still a decent-looking, hopefully competitive, Class 2 Flat handicap for nine 4yo+ runners over a mile on Good to Firm/Good ground on Town Moor. There's a reasonable enough £10,800 for winning this one and here are the horses entered...

Form : Blue Mist, Power of Darkness, Stunning Beauty, Tiger Crusade and Turn On The Charm have all won at least one of the last five outing, with the last pair being our LTO winners.

Class/Hcp Status/Sex :
Beat Le Bon drops down from Listed company, whilst Tiger Crusade, Scottish Summit and Turn On The Charm all ran at Class 3 last time around with Stunning Beauty now stepping up three classes for her handicap debut and she's the only filly in the race.

Days Since Run :
All bar Milltown Star (83 days) and Stunning Beauty (99 days) have raced in the past seven weeks with both Scottish Summit and Ebury being rested for less than a fortnight before coming here.

Age :
All bar the 8 yr old Scottiish Summit are aged 4-6

Weight spread :
Top weight Beat Le Bon will carry 13lbs more than Ebury

Trainer Form / Course record :
Tiger Crusade, Scottish Summit, Stunning Beauty and Turn On The Charm all positives for recent form with all bar Scottish Summit being positive for trainer/course stats. Ebury is a negative on that score.

Jockey Form / Course record :
Milltown Star, Tiger Crusade and Power of Darkness are partnered by in-form riders whereas Tom Eaves (Ebury) is a negative for recent form and also for his course record. Dane O'Neill (Beat Le Bon) has a positive 5yr course icon, as does Jamie Spencer (Tiger Crusade), but Jamie hasn't fared as well here lately.

SR ratings :
Far more spread out (113 to 75) than the OR, with Turn On The Charm a clear leader on that stat.

Beat Le Bon carries top weight of 9st7lbs off a mark of 103 and was very good in the summer of 2019, rattling off a hat-trick of wins at this grade inside ten weeks off marks of 94 to 104, but hasn't won any of ten starts since. Yes, he's below his last winning mark, but his form leaves something to be desired here, needs to step forward to get involved.

Blue Mist landed a £28,000 prize in this class at Ascot last July, beating 18 rivals to the line off a mark of 95. He was subsequently beaten by 4 lengths and then 33 lengths off higher marks before a 30-week break. He returned from his layoff looking like he needed the run in a 14 length defeat at Newbury three weeks ago and although he should come on for the run and he's down a pound, he still has no room for comfort off his current mark.

Milltown Star is steady whilst unspectacular as a Class 2 handicapper, failing to win any of six attempts but rarely getting beaten by far. Most recently he was 6th of 13 over 8.5f at Wolverhampton in this grade, but that came after a 24-week break and he was only 1.25 lengths behind the leader. An easing of a pound in the weights and having had the run would suggest he'd be a contender, but closer analysis says that was a poor race last time out, as the ten runners to have re-appeared since have just 1 win and 4 places from 26 combined efforts.

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Tiger Crusade was 3rd of 4, beaten by just over 4 lengths on debut in August 2019 and has only raced six times since, making the frame in all six, winning three times and not beaten by more than two lengths. He won by the thick end of three lengths at Kempton last time out, but is up 6lbs for that win, steps up to a mile for the first time, steps up to Class 2 for the first time and returns to turf for the first time in 45 weeks. There are too many "firsts" there for him to be my first, although I think he'll run creditably.

Scottish Summit had a really good summer last time around with a run of form reading 32322101 with a pair of wins at this 1m trip. He was only beaten by half a length on soft ground at Ripon just over a week ago and now back on his preferred quicker ground off the same mark must be a contender here.

Power of Darkness had his best bout of form in 2018/19 with a run starting around this time of year and reading 112711 to mid-August 2019. He was then off the track for 323 days and only ran twice last year, going down by 6L and 9L over 1m/1m1f at this grade. He could only manage to finish 19th of 16 (7L down) at Newbury seven weeks ago, but that was after another 204 days off and now with that run under his belt and dropped down to his last winning mark, he'd be an unlikely winner here, but it would be within his scope to threaten the places.

Stunning Beauty burst onto the scene last season, winning both her UK races. Both were 1m Novice encounters and she won a Class 4 by 4 lengths and then a Class 5 by 7.5 lengths, before a 171 day break. She then blotted her copybook by finishing last of 9 and second last of 14 over the winter at Meydan and now 99 days later has a fair bit to do here back on turf.

Turn On The Charm made his handicap debut almost a year ago and he has three wins and two places from seven handicap runs. His worst results were two fourth places finishes either side of a 163-day layoff and he won by two lengths at Lingfield almost a month ago. He might well be up another 5lbs, but he's a solid progressive handicapper getting weight from most of his rivals.

Ebury ran his best race for some time when third of seven last time out and after six consecutive runs at 7f, now steps back up to a mile for the first time in almost a year. His best form has been over this trip and he has won on good to firm, but he's a Class 3 horse at best for me and despite carrying bottom weight here, a mark of 90 is still probably a little high.

At this point, I already like the look of some over others and so far I'm not too keen on the likes of Blue Mist, Milltown Star or Stunning Beauty, but maybe the Geegeez toolbox will convince me otherwise, starting with relevant form as highlighted by Instant Expert...

Nothing there has pushed me closer to the three I didn't like from stage 1 and you can probably add Ebury to that list. Power of Darkness' numbers are really interesting and would suggest a big run if recapturing old form.

If we consider the draw in three blocks of three runners, then the raw data from 46 previous similar contests would suggest that for win purposes, a mid-draw (4-6) would be advantageous and that the higher you get drawn the more chance you have of making the frame...

That mid-stalls success is a little at odds with my disliking of Milltown Star and Stunning Beauty in 4 and 5, but closer examination of the stall by stall results...

...would debunk the theory of a discernible draw bias. Yes, stall 1 has done really well, which is great for Power of Darkness, but the numbers aren't that much better than stales 4, 6 or 7. Stalls 3 and 8 have underperformed, but as the graph shows there's not really a massive variance aside from those two, so I think they might be rogue numbers here. In fact, the Geegeez course guide for Doncaster says..."on faster ground the draw has little bearing on the race outcome"...

Pace-wise, mid-division runners would seem to have struggled at first glance, but they only represent 8.25% of all runners and such a small sample size is both volatile and unreliable. Hold up horses have the best wins to runs ratio, but to prove the volatility of the small sample data for mid-division horses, just one more mid-0div winner would move the win % from 9.09 to 12.12...

So, if we put mid-division runners to one side, there's not actually a massive pace bias here either, although hold up horses are far more likely to make the frame than leaders.

Essentially, Doncaster is a pretty fair track and with no distinct pace or draw bias, you'd expect the "best" runners to win more often. That's a fair assumption to make, but there are still some pace/draw combinations are have been more successful than others...

Basically, if you're drawn low, you want to be getting out sharpish, but if you're not drawn low, you should bide your time. I wonder how our nine runners fit that heatmap. Let's have a look in draw order, shall we?

Power of Darkness is a confirmed hold-up horse and whilst he's not got the ideal draw for that style of running, it's what he's always done. The pace is likley to come from Stunning Beauty and Ebury and I'd envisage them getting passed by a few later on in the contest. Scottish Summit is likely to tuck in alongside/with Blue Mist at the rear, which would be a good tactic from wide.

Summary

I won't beat about the bush here, I'll move straight to my chosen three against the field.  I like Scottish Summit, who looks on the verge of going on another run of form like last summer, he's off the same mark as a good run last time out and is now on favoured conditions. His pace/draw make-up is decent enough and he's only 5lbs higher than his last win. It won't be easy for him, of course, but at 6/1 he looks decent value.

Turn On the Charm isn't as well suited from the data highlighted by the toolbox, but this is his trip, he's drawn next to my first choice, he won last time out and he's a solid reliable handicapper. based on his profile 3/1 is probably about fair and he's sure to be involved.

As for another placer or possible E/W punt, you can get 16/1 about Power of Darkness, He's lightly raced of late, but if getting back to anything like what he's capable of, then he has every chance of making the frame and defying the odds. His handicap record shown on Instant Expert speaks for itself.

 

Racing Insights, 3rd June 2021

No joy for us on Wednesday, but when the first four home in an eight-runner race are 10/1, 6/1, 6/1 and 8/1, I'm guessing not many people called it right in a contest where 10/1 was the highest SP. I don't like getting it badly wrong, but I'm mildly heartened when it's not just me!

Every Thursday, we make the Instant Expert feature on the racecard available to ALL readers for ALL races including, of course, our daily free 'races of the day', which are set to be...

  • 1.55 Leopardstown
  • 3.05 Leopardstown
  • 4.55 Ffos Las
  • 5.10 Uttoxeter
  • 5.15 Thirsk
  • 7.45 Thirsk

The best of the UK races from that list is the 5.10 Uttoxeter, a competitive looking 6-runner affair. We probably won't get a big price about the winner but it looks an interesting puzzle to unravel this Class 4 Handicap Chase over two miles on good ground. The top prize of £3,594 awaits one of this half dozen of geldings...

Although this is a National Hunt contest, we can still approach it in a similar manner to the Flat races we've been profiling more of late.

Form : We have three with wins in their last five outings with Cawthorne being the only LTO winner
Handicap Experience : All bar Tardree have raced in handicap company before now
Class : Chez Hans and Cawthorne step up from Class 5
Course/Distance : Twycross Warrior is the sole previous winner here at Uttoxeter, albeit over a different trip, but he has won elsewhere at this 2m distance, as have all bar Chez Hans.
Recent Runs : All have been seen recently in the last 18-27 days, so no layoffs to overcome
Trainer Form : Handlers of Tardree and Zuckerberg are going well, but Larch Hill's yard is unusually quiet
Jockey Form : Conversely Larch Hill's rider has a good Uttoxeter record, as indeed does the jockey aboard Twycross Warrior
Weights :  A fairly big spread here with Cawthorne carrying 16lbs less than Larch Hill!

Larch Hill does indeed head the weights and has 12 stones to carry here, but arrives here in peak form having finished 212 in three starts this year so far. Beaten by just a length and a quarter on his return from a 20-week break, he then went on to score by 5 lengths at his favoured Warwick before going down by just three parts of a length at this class over a furlong further on unsuitably soft ground at Stratford 18 days ago. He's only up a pound for that and now back on quicker ground at his preferred trip, you'd expect him to be in with a good shout of breaking his yard's current (0/21, but 8 top 3 finishers) cold spell.

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Tardree is a former PTP winner who has made just four starts under Rules, finishing 2nd then 1st in two bumpers last year before running fourth on his hurdles bow just after Christmas. He was then rested for 130 days before returning to finish third over hurdles at Market Rasen less than four weeks ago and I find it interesting that he is being sent chasing so soon for a yard with a 25.7% strike rate in Class 4 handicap chases since the start of 2018 (18 from 70 at an A/E of 1.55).

Zuckerberg won four of eighteen in France over hurdles/fences, but is 0 from 9 in the UK one the A/W, over hurdles and chasing without even making the frame. His best UK run came LTO when he was 3rd of 7 at Sedgefield, but is now a pound higher as he drops back in trip by some 3.5f. Trainer, Jockey and Trainer/Jockey are all in good form, but I prefer others here.

Chez Hans' sole win came over hurdles at Leicester in December 2018 when he was quite lucky to be handed the race after the leader fell. Since then he has only raced six times in thirty months, failing to complete three of the six. His record this year reads PU5 and he was 5th of 9, beaten by 19 lengths last time out. He's up in class and has no form at this trip and at the moment looks like the worst of the six runners here.

Twycross Warrior has just completed 15 straight runs over hurdles and has run pretty consistently of late, but without winning. In five races since the start of last year, he made the frame four times and was then 4th of 12 last time out. His sole win came at this track/trip just over two years ago and now tackles fences for the first time at the age of nine. His jockey rides the track well and the horse's past form deserves respect, but I don't see him winning here first up.

Cawthorne presents an interesting conundrum here. He was last home of nine (bt by 148L!) in October 2019 and then failed to complete six (4 falls, 2 x PU) of his next seven before he surprisingly won a Class 5 hurdle at Market Rasen over 2m3f last September off a mark of 79. he followed that up by making the frame at Exeter 12 days later before taking a 197-day break. He probably needed the run when beaten by 34 lengths at Chepstow on St George's Day, but then switched back to fences to win by almost 5 lengths at Sedgefield last time out off a mark of 83. He's up in class here and some 11lbs higher and those facts along with his previous poor form allied to his trainer's poor (4 from 84 = 4.76% SR, A/E 0.55) record here at Uttoxeter since the start of 2018 puts me off somewhat.

That's a general overview of the runners recent history, but 'feature of the day' Instant Expert gives us a quick overview of past form under today's race conditions...

There isn't much data from the runners' previous chase contests, so I've also shown you their overall records in NH races and Larch Hill looks to be the standout here.

As this is a two mile chase, there are no stalls and subsequently no draw data to consider, so we'll move straight to the pace tab for race positioning...

I wouldn't set too much faith in the 25% strike rate for mid-division runners, as it's from such a small sample size and what I'd be taking from the above is that you really want to be up with the pace here at Uttoxeter. Leaders/prominent runners have won 14 of the 18 races and have taken 25 of the 36 places available. I wouldn't say whether racing in mid-div was a good or a bad thing, but I do know you don't win many from a hold-up position, although there's always a chance of making the frame, as fields often get strung out here at Uttoxeter.

So, do we have a natural pace setter or two here? Well, based on their last four outings...

...I'd be very surprised if chase debutant Tardree didn't set the fractions. This is clearly a successful tactic on this track, but it's also good for those tackling fences for the first time, as they get the clearest view possible of each obstacle. Whether he can create a big enough gap to hold on to, is the big question.

Summary

If Tardree takes to the fences, then he's of real interest here. His yard do so much better with their Clas 4 handicap chasers than in any other kind of race and I've no doubts that he'll have been well schooled. He has moved from 5/1 in the market to 7/2 whilst I've been typing (must type quicker!), but I think he'll have to play second fiddle to the top weight.

Once again, I have to make an assumption or two and hope that Larch Hill can carry 12 stones well enough and that he doesn't let Tardree to get too far ahead. His jockey (ST-D) is no mug, he rides this track well and is a prety good judge of pace, so it's Larch Hill at 11/4 for me here.

 

Racing Insights, 2nd June 2021

My 1-2 at Leicester on Tuesday had to settle for 2nd and 3rd, as the talented Spirit of Bermuda finally behaved herself and go on with the job in hand. I had said this about her..."has ability, but also has some temperament issues..." I highlighted that she'd won a Class 2 previously and she was bang at it today, straight out of the stalls and away, hitting the front with a furlong to run and then proved unstoppable. Close but no cigar.

Wednesday's feature of the day is the Trainer Stats report, whilst our free races will be...

  • 3.40 Nottingham
  • 4.20 Wexford
  • 5.10 Kempton
  • 6.00 Curragh
  • 7.40 Curragh
  • 8.30 Ripon

The first of that list is the best of the UK races, so today's piece will focus on the 3.40 Nottingham, an 8-runner, Class 4, 3yo Flat handicap over 1m½f on good ground. The prize is £4,347 and here are the contenders...

This field has just 31 prior runs between them, but all bar the bottom two on the card (who are a combined 0 from 11) have won at least once already.  Sevenal and Qaasid both won last time out. They are both making a handicap debut here, as is George Morland, whilst this will be a second handicap start for Ilzza'eem and Dark Company, who drops down a class to run here, but Sevenal, Qaasid, George Morland all move up a grade.

It's 30 weeks or so since Qaasid and Dark Company were last seen, but the rest of field have raced in the past 2 to 6 weeks, as of today (Tuesday). We have a 10lb weight spread according to the assessor and our SR ratings suggest a tight affair between Dark Company and Siam Fox.

The handlers of Ilza'eem, Qaasid, Bertie's Wish ad Dark Company all have positive track profiles, as do the jockeys of Ilza'eem and Siam Fox. From a recent form perspective, Qaasid's trainer and the jockeys on Sevenal, Qaasid, Bertie's Wish and Siam Fox are of note.

Qaasid has never raced on turf, which is why he has no SR figure.

Ilza'eem was a runner-up on his first two starts. both over 7f before winning at Redcar over a mile in early April. He then made his handicap bow at Wolverhampton at Class 3 off a mark of 89 and was last home of seven over today's trip. That was 15 days before this race and although he's down in class and weight (-2lbs), he'll need to come on for that run now back on turf.

Sevenal was a decent runner-up over 7f on heavy ground on his only 2yo start and was then beaten by 5 lengths over 1m2f on his return from 5 months off the track, but followed up with a battling win over this trip a month ago. He now wears cheekpieces for the first time and looks to have a decent chance off an opening mark of 84.

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Qaasid was well beaten on debut last August and was a modest 3rd of 9 a month later, both over 7f  at Class 5. He then stepped up to a mile to win another Class 5 contest at Kempton. On that run, you'd think he'd have a good chance here, but he's up in class, he hasn't raced on turf before and hasn't been seen for 30 weeks. I don't think his mark gives him much room for error either.

George Morland is still very unexposed after just two starts that saw him win on debut (C5, 7f) at Kempton and then was narrowly beaten after a better effort on his turf debut at Salisbury, also at C5, 7f. Up in trip and class here, but he already looks better than an opening mark of 82 and could go well here.

Bertie's Wish is probably better than 9th of 12 last time out would suggest on his second handicap run. He won a maiden (C6, 7f) on his third start and then also won on handicap debut at this class/trip off a mark of 76. He either didn't handle the extra 5lbs or the softer ground last time out, but goes off the same mark on better ground here, so you'd expect him to be nearer this time.

Dark Company was 3rd of 9 on debut over 6f on soft ground (Pontefract, C5), but won a 7f novice event next time out prior to finishing 3rd of 8 in a Nursery at Wolverhampton (7f) at this level. He runs off the same mark here (79), but has a seven month lay-off and 1.5f further to deal with here and his two best runs were on the A/W. Place material, though.

Siam Fox is 0 from 5 so far and after starting out well finishing 223 in Novice contests seemed to lose his way in two handicap races 180 days apart, beaten by 9L and 8L at this class/trip. Eased 2lbs but I'm not sure that's enough.

Invincibly is now 0 from 6, but has made the frame in three of his four starts on the Flat and was only half a length behind the winner, Maison de York at Redcar last time out and that one has turned out and won again since off a mark of 76. Invincibly runs here off 77 and I'm just a little concerned that the 2lb rise is too much, as I don't think he's as good as the one he lost to LTO.

Just 31 combined runs between this group and many of those have been on the A/W, but relevant Flat form looks like this...

Unsurprisingly, there's not that much to go on there and the short summaries of each runner are probably more informative at the moment, even if they do lean on my own personal opinions slightly.

The draw stats here suggest a slight benefit for mid-drawn horses for win purposes, but the higher drawn runners make the frame more often, but to be honest, that's not screaming draw bias to me...

...and when we look at individual stalls, treating 8&9 as one unit, of course...

...stalls 3 & 5 don't look great but with those in 2, 4 and 6 doing well enough, I'm happy to count those as anomalies and say there's no real draw bias here.

As for pace, again there's no clear ideal place to race. Prominent runners just about fare best, but the message from Nottingham is don't dwell! Hold up horses have a really poor record...

And with three of the four run style all performing better than par and there being no real draw bias, it's therefore unsurprising  that the pace/draw heatmap has a huge swathe of green across it...

The low leader figure is interesting and that might be due to the tightness of the final bend causing those on the rail to check their stride for a moment to not hit the apex too quickly. Such a large swathe of green would say that plenty of runners in any given race would stand a decent chance of winning and that definitely seems to be the case here, based on their last couple of runs...

Of the eight, only George Morland and Dark Company are close to the red zones and in the case of the latter, that's because stall 3 is a low draw in a 9-runner contest. We've only 8 runners, so he's technically mid-drawn in dark green and arguably best drawn of all based on his race positioning.

Summary

As with many 3yo contests with inexperienced/unexposed sorts, another factor kicks in : gut feeling. And based upon what I wrote about each runner and the limited data from the tools, I think I want George Morland and Sevenal as my first two home. The former has run well on both occasions and looks favourably treated off a mark of 82, whilst Sevenal impressed by winning gamely last time out and is also probably better than 84.

So, for me it's the 6/1 George Morland to narrowly beat the 5/2 fav Sevenal.

As for third, I see it being very tight between Dark Company, Ilza'eem and even Qaasid/Bertie's Wish. I wouldn't be surprised if they all finished in a heap, but long layoff aside it'd be Dark Company for me at 9/1. He's just about E/W price there, but that's a personal choice, of course.

Racing Insights, 1st June 2021

Nice result at Cartmel on Monday, where one of my three runners was a non-runner and the other two were the first two home at 10/1 and 4/1. As is often the case, I'd got them the wrong way around, but there was still profit from the picks, whilst the forecasts paid around 50/1!

Onto Tuesday, where the Shortlist report is the free feature of the day and the free races of the day are as follows...

  • 2.55 Redcar
  • 4.15 Leicester
  • 4.25 Brighton
  • 4.50 Leicester
  • 5.05 Redcar
  • 6.40 Tipperary

The best of those races is the first of the two at Leicester and although it's a small field with a likely short-priced favourite, it'll still be good to see if (a) the fav justifies the price and (b) whether there's an E/W bet or forecast angle to be had.

So, my focus now falls on the 4.15 Leicester, a 6-runner, Class 4 Flat Handicap for 3yo fillies over 7f on ground officially described as Good (Good To Firm In Places). The top prize is £4,347 and it will go to one of...

Form : All bar Wootton Creek have won at least one of their last five outings and she's the only one yet to race in a handicap so far. Divine Magic is the sole LTO winner in the field. Zwelela & Spirit of Bermuda have alreasdy won over 7f, whilst Divine Magic is a course and distance winner.
Class Moves : Red Fascinator and Cream of the Crop drop one class, Zwelela drops two classes and Divine Magic is up a grade.
Days since last run : All six have raced in the last five weeks, so no layoffs to deal with.
Trainer/Jockey Form : Red Fascinator is the only one without a positive course icon (C1 C5) for either trainer or jockey.
Ratings : The first five on the card are separated by just 7lbs by the assessor, whilst the SR figures are more strung out, favouring Spirit of Bermuda.

Red Fascinator carries top weight here and makes a second handicap start after finishing 7th of 11 at York last time out. She was beaten by just over 12 lengths and although she's now down in class and 2lbs better off, this still looks too tough for her.

Zwelela is 2 from 2 over seven furlongs this year, admittedly on the A/W at Lingfield at Class 5 and then at Wolverhampton at this grade off a mark 3lbs lower than today. She was well beaten (11.5 lengths) at Newmarket last time out having weakened considerably in the final furlong of eight. Down two classes and a furlong here, she's one to consider if transferring her A/W form to turf.

Spirit of Bermuda has ability, but also has some temperament issues as highlighted when she refused to race at Redcar last time out after getting agitated in the stalls, She'd also got restless in the stalls the time before and although she won a Class 2 maiden over 7f on debut, I'm not sure I trust her to behave here.

Divine Magic is the likely short-priced favourite and comes here off the back of a soft ground win here over course and distance last time out fifteen days ago in what was easily her best run to date. She won by three lengths that day, prompting a 6lb rise in weight which makes this task tougher for her, as does the step up in class, whilst the ground will be quicker this time. She's probably the one to beat, but I don't think she has too much in hand.

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Wootton Creek makes a handicap debut here after four defeats in maidens, the best of which was when 2nd of 15 at Newmarket last September and her most recent run saw her beaten by five lengths at this class/trip on similar ground at Ayr five weeks ago. Mark Johnston's horses often improve in handicap company, but based on form, she's hard to back here.

Cream of the Crop is bottom weight here receiving 6lbs to 13lbs from her rivals. She won over 5f in early August on her second run and was deemed suitable for a run in the Gr2 Lowther Stakes at York 16 days later. She finished 13th of 14 there, beaten by 13 lengths. She has raced twice this year so far, losing by 5.25L and 3L, both over 6f and now has to step up in trip, although she has been eased a couple of pounds. If she sees the trip out, she could well get involved off such a low mark.

Instant Expert tells us that 3 of the six have won on similar ground to this race, but only Zwelela has a Class 4 win to her name. As I mentioned at the start, we've three previous 7f winners, including Divine Magic's C&D success last time out, for which she is now 6lbs higher...

...whereas in handicap company only...

Zwelela may well not have won on Gd/Gd to Fm, but her other numbers are good off albeit small sample sizes.

In terms of the draw, I've expanded the field requirements to 5 to 7 runners as follows...

And the way I'd look at this would be to take stalls 1-5 as read, but to combine 6 & 7 to treat stall 6 at 6 wins from 40 (15%) and 14 places from 40 (35%) for the purpose of a 6-runner race (ie anything higher than stall 5).

This means that stall 1 is easily the the most preferred place to be, but if you want to look at zonal draws, then the "top half" ie 4-6 is marginally better than stalls 1-3 for win (53/47 split) and place (52/48) purposes, although the fact that stall 1 is so strong, the advice here, I suppose, is to just avoid boxes 2 & 3! Which isn't great news for Cream of the Crop and/or Red Fascinator.

As for pace, these are the stats relating to the above races...

I'd be inclined to take the mid-division numbers with a pinch of salt, due to the very small amount of data. We can safely say that hold-up horses haven't done very well and that prominent horses have just about won as many as expected (IV is almost 1). but horses that lead fare best of those with any form of sample size.

So, the assumption from the above is that if the likes of Zwelela in stall 1 like to lead, they'd do very well here. To verify that claim, here's the Geegeez pace/draw heat map...

...which distinctly favours the low drawn leaders, which would be great news for Zwelela, if she's one who likes to get on with things. Our pace data for each horse tells us how they've run in their most recent outings and we allocate 4pts for leaders, 3 for prominent running, 2 for mid-division and 1 for being held-up. This is how the field score in their last three races...

Based on that information, it's likely that Zwelela may well try to set the pace from the rail draw with Wootton Creek providing the wider pace and when we superimpose this data onto that heat map and arrange the horses into draw order, we can almost get a bird's eye view of how we think they'll race...

...which would re-affirm my earlier assertion that Zwelela's desire to get on with it would be an advantage from stall 1. I don't read too much into the red blocks for mid-division runners as I explained earlier, but I do think Zwelela just about edges in on the heatmap.

Summary

Should Divine Magic be the favourite here? Yes, I'd probably say it's her race to lose. But I don't have her as nailed on as the 5/4 price she is in some places. I don't want to be backing her at that price, but she should win.

Of the rest, the biggest dangers look like Cream of the Crop and Zwelela to me and I prefer the latter of those two. Zwelela has the best draw, she'll look to get on with it and at 8/1 with Bet365 is just about long enough to justify an E/W bet. If she gets away sharp enough, she could well cause the fav some problems in overhauling her.

Racing Insights, 31st May 2021

Confession time and definitely not after-timing as I didn't back it, but the winner of Saturday's John of Gaunt Stakes, Kinross, was in my original three against the field and I talked myself out of him in favour of With Thanks, who finished 7th. To be honest, aside from Glorious Journey making the frame, it wasn't my best race preview!

That said, Bank Holiday Monday offers me another chance to have another go and it's my last piece of what has been a reasonable enough month. The Pace tab is free to all readers for all races on Mondays, whilst our free 'races of the day' are set to be...

  • 2.20 Redcar
  • 2.45 Windsor
  • 3.00 Cartmel
  • 5.45 Roscommon
  • 6.00 Punchestown
  • 7.45 Roscommon

I'm not a huge fan of Irish racing, mainly because I don't spend enough time watching/studying it and I rarely get involved with maiden or 2yo novice races on the Flat, so today's preview almost picks itself.

That said, it's a decent enough race at a cracking little venue. Regrettably I won't be there in person this year as I usually am, so it's from a distance that I'll be watching the 3.00 Cartmel, which is a 10-runner, Class 3, Veterans Handicap Chase for 10yo+ horses over 3m5½f on Good ground. And these are the ones chasing a pot of £5,882...

Rock On Fruity has won three of his last nine runs since the start of March 2020, with all three wins coming at this grade. He acts on most ground from Good downwards, is 4 from 11 with today's jockey and is only 4lbs higher than when winning at Newcastle last time out, 2 months ago. Has a real chance if he gets the trip.

William of Orange is also up in weight (+3lbs) after a win LTO, as he landed a Class 3 handicap over 3m2.5f at Southwell less than a fortnight ago. That took his record for 2021 to 3 wins and a place from six starts and he's clearly in excellent form despite his age. He's 7 from 25 on Good ground and 3 from 5 under today's jockey and like the runner above, he's definitely in the mix if he gets the trip.

Dawson City, on the other hand, should have no problem with the trip, having won over 3m7f in the past. He was in good form from mid-November onwards, but disappointed last time out when beaten by 53 lengths at Ffos Las at the start of April. That run aside, he's still be a contender here but for the ground, I think. His best form comes in the mud and I fear this will be too quick for him.

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Aaron Lad is 2 from 5 on Good ground but has never gone beyond 3m2f so far. He won at Exeter in January of 2020, but fell next time out. After a break of some 391 days, he has struggled this year and was beaten by 32 lengths two starts ago and was pulled up before the last three weeks ago. Has potential but I can't see him winning here.

Fact of the Matter is well past his best, if truth be told. He was a runner-up and then a winner in two Class 2 Cross Country events at Cheltenham in late 2018, but that was the last time he won. Since then he has been well beaten in five outings. If he turns up here, this will be just his fifth run in almost 26 months.

Red Giant has ability but is rather inconsistent. He won a Class 2 contest back in October and was a runner-up next time out despite a 7lb hike in the weights, but he then rounded off his 2020 campaign with a 25-length defeat at Market Rasen off the same mark. He went back to Market Rasen for his reappearance 128 days later/24 days ago and struggled to see out three miles, pulling up before the third last. But good ground, the step up in trip and his 5 from 24 record under today's jockey are all positives. Place potential here if coming on for the run.

Gangster won a 4-mile soft ground chase at Hexham by 14 lengths two starts ago, taking advantage of a mark that had dropped to a career-low 107, but in the four races before that win, he had been 6th of 7 and then pulled up three times. After that win, he was raised 8lbs and subsequently finished almost 50 lengths off the pace and he goes off that mark again here. He's not one I'd be keen on.

Dr Robin had a real purple patch from late June to late August 2019, where he won four on the bounce (2 x hurdle, 2 x chase), including three here at Cartmel. He was pulled up a month after that last win and then wasn't seen for 559 days. On his return last month, he was pulled up again and was then beaten by 53 lengths last time out. He looks up against it here, even off 5lbs lower. He's 3 from 6 here, 5 from 21 on good ground and 6 from 24 for his jockey, but hasn't won beyond 4 furlongs shorter than today.

Nakadam should get the trip, but would prefer it softer and he hasn't been running well of late either. His three runs this year have seen him pulled up and then beaten by 42L and 34L and he now steps up in class from 6lbs out of the handicap. I'd be very surprised to see him involved here.

So Satisfied races from even further out of the handicap, a whopping 22lbs and that alone should be enough to put you off. If it isn't, then defeats of 16L, 38L, 33L, 41L, 9L, 36L and 28L in seven starts since the start of 2020 should do the trick. I'd also add that those seven races were at a lower class (2 x C4, 5 x C5) than today and I'm struggling to find a positive thing to say. Hang on, her yard is 5 from 18 here at Cartmel since the start of 2017, so it's nice to end on a positive.

These runners are all 10-12 yrs old, so when we look at relevant win/place form on Instant Expert in a moment, I think that we should stick to 2yr form, as there's no point leaning on very old data. That said most haven't run/won too often in that time, so the place stats might tell us a bit more than the win data...

As it happens, the figures aren't massively different showing a propensity of these horses to either win or not make the frame at all. Red Giant has raced on good ground more than the others, but hasn't fared too well on it over fences in the last two years, but has won 6 times on Good overall. We've plenty who have made the frame at this grade, but not many with relevant course experience.

Dawson City might well be 0 from 7 at the trip, but he has made the frame twice and has only failed to complete 2 of 12 races beyond 3m5f, so if it comes to just completing the course to be involved, he's an interesting sort, having also made the frame three times at this level.

We don't really have enough pace data from similar contests over the last couple of years, as there's only one race of this distance per year at Cartmel (and only one over 3m6f), but from my own experiences of visiting Cartmel, I recall that leaders often struggle to hang on and that prominent runners fare best. In longer contests like today, several have also been won by hold up horses who have conserved their energy for the run in.

I know this is anecdotal evidence, but it's a track I visit quite often and I'd generally look for prominent or hold up horses here. With that in mind, here's how these bunch have raced in recent races...

This would suggest that Aaron Lad and Red Giant will lead them along with Dr Robin maybe also getting involved. Fact of the Matter and William of Orange would look to be the prominent followers. The above graphic also suggests that the bottom two will be held up for run, but I suspect they'll be more tailed off than held up and maybe the likes of Rock On Fruity (held-up in 2 of his last 3) and Dawson City (held up LTO) will be he actual hold up horses here.

Summary

Before I looked at the race positioning of these horses in their last few races, my favoured four here would have been (in alphabetical order) Dawson City, Red Giant, Rock On Fruity and William of Orange. The pace data hasn't really swayed me away from those four, as I've more reservations about the other six in the contest.

However, to end up with my three for trifecta/tricast purposes, Red Giant is the one to miss out. He might just do too much too early and I'm still not entirely convinced he gets the trip.

Of the three others, I like William of Orange best. yes, I've doubts about him getting the trip, but I think he's best suited here. Dawson City & Rock On Fruity could run him close, but I'm in agreement about the 7/2 fav William of Orange here. Rock On Fruity is currently 9/2 and Dawson City is 11/1, so I'll probably have a small E/W on him too.

 

Racing Insights, 29th May 2021

Mixed bag today, as I correctly identified the winner from my the two I felt best suited for the race, but I'd got Time Has Wings as second best, whilst my preferred pick Iris Dancer was placed third, four lengths back. Hardly a disaster, of course : I'm always happy to get my 1-2 both in the frame.

Saturday is almost upon us and 'feature of the day' is the Trainer/Jockey combo report, whilst our free 'races of the day' are...

  • 1.45 Haydock
  • 2.45 Cartmel
  • 3.30 Haydock
  • 4.10 Punchestown
  • 4.20 Beverley
  • 6.15 Salisbury

And the standout race from above, is the John of Gaunt Stakes, a 9-runner Group 3 contest for 4yo+ horses over 7f on soft (gd to soft in places) ground. It's on your cards as the 3.30 Haydock and it's worth £34,026 to one of these...

As you'd expect from a field at this level, all have won relatively recently with River Nymph, Toro Strike and With Thanks all winning last time out, the first two of that trio are, however, stepping up in class today.

All bar Glorious Journey (98 days), Kinross (107 days) and With Thanks (209 days) have raced in the past six weeks and the SR ratings suggest a tight affair with seven runners rated 100 to 117.

Safe Voyage carries top weight here, but is joint best off at the weights with Glorious Journey and this 8 yr old gelding won a couple of Group 2 contests to close out his 2020 campaign. He was far from his best when last home of 11 in the Lockinge a fortnight ago, but he probably needed the run after 8 months off. This is a slightly easier task, he loves Haydock (11112 in 5 runs here), gets soft ground, gets the trip and has a 40% strike rate with today's jockey. Big player here if race ready.

Brad The Brief won a Listed race at Newmarket three starts ago, but hasn't made the step up to Group 3 in two efforts since going down by 5.5 lengths and 12 lengths in those runs either side of a 189-day break. And although he likes soft ground, this is still probably too tough for him based on the opposition.

Glorious Journey is joint best off at the weights and won a Group 2 race in the 2019 season. He won a Listed race and made the frame at Group 2 in his final two runs of last season and if returning at that same level would be a major player here. The fly in this particular ointment is his 98-day absence since running at King Abdulaziz, but he has a win and a place from two soft ground runs and his best work has been at this trip.

Kinross has finished sixth in a couple of races at Meydan this year, but his last UK action saw him win a Listed contest over a mile at Kempton back in November. He acts well enough on most surfaces, but can sometimes be lazy at the start of races getting away slowly.

Njord is a solid Class 2 (or Irish equivalent) handicapper, but hasn't really done much of note when stepped up in class. He was only third of seven in a Listed race at Naas last time out and he's already had a run before that outing to shake off the winter cobwebs. My feeling is that he's useful, but not up to the task here. Won't mind the ground, though.

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River Nymph has won three of his last five and that form line looks impressive, but they were two Class 3 contests and a Class 2 either side of two other C2's where his finished well down the field. He's 2 from 3 on soft ground and 3 from 7 under today's jockey, but for me, he's just a Class 2/3 'capper, I'm afraid.

Toro Strike ended 2020 with two good runs at Goodwood, winning a Class 3 handicap and then a runner-up beaten by just a neck in a Group 3 race a month later. He returned to action at Thirsk six weeks ago to defy a 230-day absence by winning another Class 3 handicap by more than two lengths and although this is tougher, he could well step forward again here. He probably would prefer it quicker, though.

With Thanks is a progressive 4 yr old filly, never out of the first two home in five starts so far, winning three times. She hasn't raced since early November when she landed a 15-runner Group 3 contest at Naas by some five lengths and if she's ready first time out will be one to watch. My other slight concern other than the layoff is that the ground might not be soft enough for her.

Queen JoJo won at Gr3 and then placed at Gr2 in back to back races at York last summer, but has been 12th of 13 at Gr1 and 11th of 12 at Gr2 since then, the latest being just 17 days ago. She has won on soft, bt her best form is on quicker ground and I think she's more of a 6f runner.

Lots of past wins from this group (40 from 115), so we turn to Instant Expert to see if their wins are relevant to the task ahead...

And take from that what you will, but based on the volume of runs in similar contests, you can't fail to be impressed by Safe Voyage's numbers. Plenty of others have blocks of green next to them and Brad The Brief looks a little better than I painted him earlier!

Queen Jo Jo looks a No No on the going stats and to be fair, she looks the weakest so far.

In 8/9 runners contests over this course and distance on good to soft/soft ground, you can pretty much win/place from anywhere...

...but if pushed I'd want to be in that stalls 3 to 7 block for place purposes or 4 to 9 for the winners.

So, if you can bag a plum spot in maybe stalls 4 to 7, that's great, but Haydock also definitely has a pace bias and races like this you cannot be left behind and expect to win too often. The stats will back up my theory here (hopefully)...

And in a nutshell, it says the further forward you race, the better you do! However grabbing the middle stalls and leading isn't necessarily the best combination, it doesn't always work that way and here at Haydock, that has never been truer, because...

...yes, you want to lead, but you actually want to be doing from either end of the draw! And prominent high-drawn runners fare better than all except high drawn leaders, so horses like Kinross, Njord and Queen Jo Jo (all of whom I don't fancy) can grab the lead, that would be their best chance here. However to further dissuade me from backing any of that trio, the pace in the race looks to be in stalls 2 to 5...

...and when I overlay that onto the pace/draw heatmap...

...it looks good for Safe Voyage above all others. I'd expect him to attempt to set the pace and with his excellent record over curse and distance, he might be tough to stop.

Summary

Based on everything above and his record over 7/7.5f at Haydock, I'm finding it tough to steer away from Safe Voyage. Yes, he's the 4/1 favourite, but I think that's a fair price and not all big race favs get turned over, do they?

The dangers are likely to come from the likes of With Thanks, if race ready first time out, Toro Strike if getting the ground and maybe Glorious Journey if returning to last season's turf form. None are particularly attractively priced for an E/W punt, but if I was looking at this race fresh, they'd be the four main protagonists for me. Any of the four could win, I just feel Safe Voyage has fewest questions to answer.

Good luck whichever way you play this one, if you play it at all! Enjoy the weekend.

Chris

 

 

Racing Insights, 28th May 2021

Friday's free feature is the Horses for Courses report, which highlights runners with good past records at the track they're racing at next and our free races of the day are...

  • 1.45 Brighton
  • 2.30 Yarmouth
  • 3.05 Yarmouth
  • 3.15 Carlisle
  • 5.45 Stratford
  • 6.55 Stratford

I've no qualifiers on my Horses for Courses report and the only one of the above races that remotely interests me is the 3.15 Carlisle, so let's take a look at this 11-runner, Class 6, Flat Handicap for 3yo+ horses over 6f on Soft ground. First prize is a fairly meagre £2,322 and here's the card...

Iris Dancer is the sole LTO winner and in fact is the only runner with a recent win on the formline. Five of the field are dropping in class, three make handicap debuts, one runs for the second time in a handicap and one makes a yard debut. Just three trainers are highlighted for a good course record (C5) and just one jockey has that indicator too.

All bar Astapor (246 days off) have raced in the last six weeks and the official handicapper has the field spread over 16lbs top to bottom.

Iris Dancer produced her best effort to date in getting off the mark at the eighth attempt last out. She won a heavy ground 6f contest at Ripon just under a fortnight ago and a similar effort puts her in the mix, even if she does carry a penalty for that win.

Strangerontheshore ran well enough last time out in finishing fifth of 11 at Nottingham over 6f on soft ground 10 days ago. Although she was beaten by over four lengths that day, it was her best handicap run. Her slow/steady improvement would have to ramp up, though, for her to get involved here.

Time Has Wings has yet to make the frame on the Flat in seven outings, but she was only beaten by a head last time out at Wolverhampton when blinkered for the first time. This is such a mediocre contest that a similar effort puts her right in the mix.

Walter is yet to make the frame after three starts. Down in class and trip, but he'll need to improve to be in the shake-up on his handicap debut and off a mark of 57 hasn't been done many favours by the handicapper.

Loweswater had a fairly poor 2yo season, making the frame just once in six starts and she picked up where she left off by getting beat by 8 lengths on her comeback from 196 days off the track last time out at Catterick five weeks ago. She's entitled to come on for the run, but it would have to be some serious come on!

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Caprese Girl looks the type who might improve in handicap company and wasn't disgraced last time out when 7th of 12 at Doncaster last time out. She was coming off a break, but was less than seven lengths off the pace and now drops in class and trip for a handicap debut. She could well make the frame here as one of the "least poor".

Astapor hasn't been seen since going down by 19 lengths at Kempton eight months ago. He has moved yards during his absence and you can't help but think he'll need the run and he might find the trip too short.

Desert Cat ended her 2020 season with a decent 3rd of 12 at Wolverhampton back in November, beaten by just a length and a half. Sadly she has returned to action this year with two poor efforts (11th of 14 and 10th of 11). Now drops from 1m2f to 6f and that looks like desperation to me.

Porth Diana ran better than 7th of 15 on handicap debut last time out might suggest. She was beaten by less than 3.5 lengths and the winner has since won again off 6lbs higher. A similar effort here could see her make the frame in just here third start on turf.

Lady of Desire ran really well to finish second at Wolverhampton last time out, defying a 22/1 price tag to get within three quarters of a length of a horse rated 57 who has since made the frame again off 62. Lady of Desire goes off 48 today and if repeating that form would be in with a chance of at least grabbing some pace money.

Tiberius Augustus has the breeding to suggest he's going to be useful, but you won't have got that feeling from his three runs so far. Admittedly, they've all been at a higher class than today, but losing by 17 lengths over 5f is going to take some turning around. He hasn't finished any nearer than ten lengths behind a winner so far and I don't see that changing here, sadly.

Some Class 6 handicaps are decent little contests with some interesting aspects to them. This isn't one of them, I'm afraid but like all races of all classes, it will have a winner, so I'd like to find it nonetheless!

Between them, this field have raced 68 times, making the frame just 9 times with just one of those 9 places converted to a win. I'll show you the win & place figures for this bunch on Instant Expert, but I'd imagine all it will show you is how poor these runners are!

I think those screenshots speak for themselves, there's really not much I can add other than Strangerontheshore now doesn't look as bad as I painted her earlier! Iris Dancer is the standout, of course.

The draw stats done by sector would appear to massively favour the high draw here...

...but remember I keep telling you to challenge the data and to drill down into stats? Because this from the same results paints a slightly different picture...

And on the basis of that, I say there's no discernible bias at play here. Stall 1 hasn't won, but 9 placers say it's not a bad place to run from and stall 7's figures are just an anomaly, surely?

In those same races, hover, there's a distinct advantage for both winners and placrs in running close to if not setting the pace...

...and when you tie this in with the draw data from above, we get this heatmap...

Basically, you don't want to be held up, the Carlisle closing stretch up the hill will kill you on soft ground, but all draws can win and most running styles can win, so let's see how our runners fit onto that heatmap...

To be honest here, none of them leap out based on the above, but Caprese Girl might take another step forward, whilst Lady of Desire might even end up taking Desert Cat on for the lead.

Summary

I don't want to say too much abut this one, it's poor, but I think it's a 2-horse race with Iris Dancer beating Time Has Wings. Third place should probably go to one of Caprese Girl or Lady of Desire with a really marginal preference for the former.

The bookies also see it as a two-horse encounter, pricing them up at 7/2 and 10/3, which actually looks generous, whilst the two battling for minor honours might both be worth a small E/W punt at 10's.

Racing Insights, 27th May 2021

The weather denied trainer Mark Walford the chance to improve upon an already very good record at Beverley today after a deluge rendered the track unfit for racing, so we've nothing to report upon from Wednesday, so let's move swiftly to Thursday, whose 'feature of the day' is full access to Instant Expert for ALL readers for ALL races, including, of course, the 'races of the day', which are scheduled to be...

  • 1.30 Worcester
  • 2.30 Ripon
  • 7.25 Sandown
  • 8.00 Sandown
  • 8.30 Sandown

The first of the three Sandown races is the best of that bunch, but it's only a 5-runner contest, so I'm going to focus on the next one down. We've got what looks like a very open race on soft/heavy ground, it's a Class 3, 4yo+ handicap over a mile for £5,927. Here are the 10 runners set to tackle the 8.00 Sandown...

Form : History Writer, Gin Palace and Sword beach are the only runners winless in their last five starts. Semser & Epic Endeavour both won last time out.
Down in Class : History Writer, Mustarrid & Newbolt drop down one level
Up in Class : Epic Endeavour moves up one class, whilst both Semser & Sword Beach take two steps.
Course/Distance records : Ransom & Semser are the only two yet to win over this trip, whilst History Writer is the only previous course winner.
Days Since Last Run : Seven of the field have raced in the last month. Newbolt has raced this season, 29 days ago, but Semser & Epic Endeavour are returning from long layoffs of 174 and 220 days respectively.
Age : Seven of the field are aged 4 with Gin Palace (5),  History Writer (6) and Mustarrid (7) the exceptions
Trainer/Jockey form : History Writer, Dashing Roger, Newbolt and ransom are the ones with positive icons on the card
SR ratings : With a rating of 94, Epic Endeavour is 6pts clear of both History Writer and Dashing Roger, but with three others rated 87, 83 & 82, I'm expecting a tight race.

History Writer carries top weight here, running off a mark of 93, just 2lbs higher than his last winning mark, also over this C&D. Just 2 wins and 5 places from 23 starts and no soft ground form doesn't scream "back me", but I think this six year old is better than results might suggest, as 15 of those 23 races have been at a higher grade than this. Both wins have come from 13 runs at this trip and he has 2 wins and 2 places from six visits to Sandown, where he has finished 1317 over C&D.

Dashing Roger hasn't got near the heights of his 2020 campaign just yet where he won 4 and placed in another 4 of his 12 starts, but has finished last of 7, last of 18 and 4th of 8 in three runs this term. That fourth place LTO was a step back towards some kind of form, but more is needed here and others look in better nick, although he does love the mud.

Mustarrid has a good record in soft/heavy conditions, but all of his best work has been at lower grades than today. He ran well enough at Haydock upon his return last month, but was disappointingly last home of 6 at Nottingham four days ago and although this is a drop in class, I don't see having much of a say in proceedings.

Epic Endeavour was definitely an improver last season, finishing 1211 in his last four outings, including a win at this grade, a win at this trip and two wins on soft ground and he'd be one of the main contenders here under normal circumstances. Two slight reservations from me are that he hasn't raced for 220 days and he's up 6lbs from his last run, but there's every possibility that he hasn't stopped progressing. Interesting sort.

Newbolt had a decent winter finishing 3212 in and around today's trip, albeit mainly at Class 4. The last of those runs saw him beaten by just three parts of a length at this class/trip on the A/W at Southwell before he took a 15-week break. He returned at Newbury in April for the Spring Cup (Class 2), but was out of his depth there and despite now being down in class and 3lbs lower, I'm not keen on his chances here.

Ransom is a bit of an unknown quantity in so much as he's lightly raced (just 3 starts) and has never run on turf. He's by Kingman and so you'd expect him to "get" turf and also this trip, but after winning two Class 5 contests over 7f, he was turned over by 3.75 lengths at this grade and now steps up in trip and the going might be his undoing.

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Imperial Command has had a great winter/spring on the A/W up at Newcastle, winning three of five, but was only ninth in a tight race over 1m2f at this grade last time out. 9th of 11 might be a tad harsh after getting beaten by just 2.25 lengths over a mile and a quarter having weakened in the final furlong. The drop back in trip should help him here and he is 143 in 3 efforts on soft ground. I'm sure he'll give a good account of himself, but I like others more.

Gin Palace has a respectable 5 wins from 17 on the Flat, but has been beaten in his last six since winning over a mile at Class 2 off today's mark at Newmarket back in June of last year. Signs of a return to form were apparent when beaten by just 3.75 lengths at Ascot off 2lbs higher last time out and he could well make the frame here.

Semser is another unexposed type, who made the frame in all three runs for Roger Varian before being shipped off to France, where he only actually ran once for Francis-Henri Graffard, winning over 1m1f on the A/W at Lyon-la Soie. Now makes a yard debut for Gary Moore and whilst I don't know enough about him to put money down, I'll be watching interestedly.

Sword Beach completed the line-up and runs from a pound out of the handicap, he has won just one of 18 starts to date and is winless since landing a 1m Class 3 handicap on soft ground at York in October 2019, losing 11 races since. He's now on a career-low mark, some 10lbs lower than that win and although he should be competitive off 74, he's hard to like, even if he has run well on soft ground.

When the ground gets soft or "worse", form can often go out of the window and horses proven on the underfoot conditions are boosted. Feature of the Day Instant Expert is the quickest and easiest way of comparing a whole field under expected conditions from a win perspective...

...where Mustarrid and Epic Endeavour's soft ground wins are highlighted. We've no real Class 3 specialists and only History Writer has won here (2 x C&D wins). Dashing Roger and Gin Palace have the best one-mile records. Weight-wise, only Sword Beach is rated lower than the last win, with Imperial Command really up against it, as is Mustarrid.

I also realise that there aren't too many wins in that snapshot above, but we can also look at place form as follows...

...and whilst a swathe of green doesn't take us any closer to picking a winner, I use the place element of IE from a negative angle to weed out those who don't place, as if they don't place, they're not as likely to win!

*Note, Semser and Ransom have no relevant form.

When I look at the draw (I've used 8-12 runners on soft to heavy to give me some workable figures), I don't think there's a huge, discernible draw bias...

...but there's definitely a pace bias, where you don't want to be too far off the pace before the final half mile, which is a straight uphill run that will sap the energy of any runner needing to play catch up and in expected soft/heavy conditions here, sitting off the pace could well be game over from a long way out.

That lack of discernible draw bias allied to the need to be prominent is documented in the pace/draw heatmap, which would suggest low drawn runners seie the lead with mid-drawn runners tucking in behind them just ahead of those drawn high...

...and when we overlay the running styles of our horses and arrange the field in stall order, we can make an educated guess as to how they might break out in the early stages...

...where it looks like Epic Endeavour will be keen to get on with things, giving the likes of Dashing Roger and Newbolt something to set their sights on.

Summary

I did initially fancy the likes of Epic Endeavour, Gin Palace and History Writer, but I'm not sure about the latter pair now after seeing the pace stats and neither are in great form, so almost by default, Epic Endeavour is my pick today. I'm taking a gamble on his fitness, but he ended last season in great form, he looks progressive, loves the mud and has a great pace/draw make-up.

As for dangers to the selection, Dashing Roger looks like getting towed along by the leader and his own soft/heavy ground form is very good and if he can hold on, has a good chance of making the frame at a decent price. After that, I don't know enough about Ransom/Semser in these conditions, so I might just take a punt on Imperial Command. All the pace in the race is directly to his right and if he gets pulled along, his soft ground experience might just carry him into the frame at big odds!

So, it's a moderately confident shout about Epic Endeavour at 6/1 and two tentative E/W punts on Dashing Roger and Imperial Command at 12/1 and 20/1 respectively. The bookies don't agree with me, but surely they can't always be right?

Quick heads-up... I've got some family duties on Thursday and Friday, so it'll be late evening both days before this piece goes live, but don't worry, it WILL be here!

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