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.
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...
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!