Racing Insights, 23rd October 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Instant Expert for this race tells us that...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Summary

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

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

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

Racing Insights, 22nd October 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Summary

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

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

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

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

Racing Insights, 21st October 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

Racecard in Speed Rating Order :

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

Pace/Draw Heatmap in draw order : 

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

Instant Expert : 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Summary

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

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

Racing Insights, 20th October 2020

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

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

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

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

So, without further unnecessary ado...

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

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

Next up, Instant Expert...

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

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

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

And now to Skyace...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Summary

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

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

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

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

Racing Insights, 19th October 2020

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

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

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

We start, as ever with the racecard...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Summary

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

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

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

Racing Insights, 17th October 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Summary

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

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

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

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

 

 

Racing Insights, 16th October 2020

On Fridays, the Horses for Courses report is free to all users, so let's take a look and see if there's anything of interest, shall we?

Obviously you can set your own parameters and the lower the required Win Strike Rate, then the more qualifiers you'll have, but I want to look at these with a record of 1 in 3 or better who have made the frame in at least half of their course appearances to see if they're likely to improve upon the figures shown.

I've merely arranged them in time order with no other reasoning and let's consider each in turn starting with Fact Flow...

On the plus side, this 11 yr old gelding has two wins and a place from six handicap chase efforts on this track, he has won twice in eight starts under today's jockey Robert Dunne and is two from seven in the lower prize funded Class 4 contests.

He is now running off a mark some 10lbs lower than his last win and despite this being a 17-runner contest, he did win a 16-runner affair here over 2m6.5f in 2018 and was placed third in his only previous effort over course and distance.

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However, he has no win in ten since scoring here over 2m4f back in November 2018 on good to soft ground and is 004 on soft. He has never won beyond 2m6.5f, has never won after more than four weeks rest and comes here having been soundly beaten by a combined 92 lengths in his last three contests.

Next up, we have Everyhouronthehour...

We've the bonus of an in-form (14) jockey with a good course record (C5) aboard this 4 yr old gelding who has finished 521419 in six starts here at Dundalk.

He recently won over a mile on turf at Gowran Park and ran a very good race as runner-up off today's mark at the Curragh, also over a mile when last seen almost three weeks ago.

In addition to that, he has finished 14191 when sent off shorter than 5/1, so the market seems to be a good judge of his chances, he has a win and a further place from three runs wearing a tongue tie and was a winner on the only previous occasion that Colin Keane was in the saddle (at Gowran two starts ago).

The downside is that he hasn't even made the frame when dropped into a 7f contest, finishing 059 with the last two of those coming here at Dundalk, but he does like to press on, so that might help here. He was a creditable second off today's mark of 62 last time out, but that's 5lbs higher than his previous highest winning mark.

And finally, we turn to Castle Quarter at Newcastle...

This 4yr old gelding is 13137 here at Newcastle, all over 7f and tries a mile here for the first time. He was only beaten by three lengths last time out when seventh here and has now been eased a couple of pounds in the weights.

He has won at this grade and is one from two under today's jockey David Nolan whose C1 icon signifies a good record on this track over the last year. It's interesting to see a return to cheekpieces after wearing blinkers for his last five runs, but he has run well with the 'pieces in place previously, finishing 183.

There is however a doubt that he doesn't "get" further than seven furlongs, having to failed to win any of his four attempts, but he does like this track and this might represent his best chance to win at a longer trip so far.

Summary

I personally feel that today has been a very worthwhile exercise in reinforcing the Geegeez message that you have to use stats as a starting point, but look beyond them before making a final decision.

On face value, the Horses for Courses report suggests we've three "live" chances for Friday, but my personal opinion is that you should leave all three alone : I'm certainly doing just that.

Fact Flow isn't getting any younger (I feel and share his pain) and probably won't have many more bites at the cherry, but if connections feel he's one more win in him, then the recent wind op will need to be a miracle worker. He's bang out of form and 33/1 for a reason. I'd expect him to finish nearer the back than the front.

Everyhouronthehour on the other hand is more than capable of winning, so why won't I back him? Well, taking 11/4 about him in a 14-horse contest doesn't float my boat from a value perspective, especially when ou consider he hasn't won at this shorter trip and is at a career-high mark. I think I'll pass, meaning he's likely to win!

And Castle Quarter is unproven beyond 7f and has only one win in ten at this grade. If there was such a thing or horse, he's a Class 5.5 runner or plain Class 6.  This is too much for him off this mark.

Racing Insights, 15th October 2020

Thursday's "free to all users" racecards are as follows...

  • 2.05 Curragh
  • 3.36 Carlisle
  • 5.35 Wincanton
  • 6.15 Southwell
  • 6.30 Chelmsford
  • 7.30 Chelmsford

...whilst free feature of the day is Instant Expert.

I'm going to focus on the latest of the free races for today's piece...

This is now a 9-runner contest where eight of them have won over today's 1m trip, six of them have won here at Chelmsford, four of them have won over course and distance, two of them are stepped up two classes and two others are moved up one grade.

Johan and Lord Neidin are the form horses with the former hailing from an in-form (30) yard. All of Pactolus, Home Before Dusk, Johan and Pinnata's yards have a good five-year record at this venue (C5), whilst of the jockeys, those on Assimilation and Lord Neidin look in best form (30 & 14 respectively) with both jockeys riding this track well (C1 & C5), as do the pilots of  Pactolus, Gallipoli and Auchterader, who heads the Speed ratings.

As today's free feature is Instant Expert, it would be rude not to have a look at it immediately after considering the Shortlist report which is often seen as "IE Light".

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Again Lord Neidin & Johan feature prominently, but the stand out here is Assimilation with a whole bank of green. Other highlights from the above table include War Glory's record at this track at 4 wins from 10, plus another 4 placed efforts for a place strike rate of 80%, whilst Pinnata has made the frame in 13 of 19 starts at this trip, winning six times.

Next up, we need to consider the draw, as in 9-runners contests here at Chelmsford, you ideally want to be drawn in the lowest third of the field, as this provides 43.6% of all the winners (24 of 55), so that's a tick in the box for Pactolus, Assimilation and Lord Neidin.

And then we need to see how running style is reflected in this type of race via the pace heatmap...

...which is actually more informative when you overlay it with the horse silks and the draw as follows...

...where Auchterarder looks easily best placed, despite coming from a wider draw than you'd initially think was ideal. Basically, you want to be drawn low and ridden just off the pace or held up completely, but from a middle draw, you've a good chance if you for it from the off. There's a distinct possibility that those drawn in 1,2 and 3 will shift towards prominent racing if Auchterarder looks like nicking a soft lead and if any of the three do follow him, it should enhance their chances.

And that's pretty much how I'd normally mentally whizz through a race to see if one or two names keep cropping up. The process is done far quicker than it has taken me to put it together visually and it's done far quicker than the time taken to read it, but it is a really quick and often very effective way of scanning for possible bets.

If you do this and nothing stands out, leave it and move on. If something does stand out, jot the name down on a daily shortlist of possibles and then move on.

Summary

Racecard positives : Assimilation, Aucterarder, Johan, Lord Neidin

Speed Rating Positives : Auchterarder, Home Before Dusk, Lord Neidin

Shortlist/Instant Expert positives : Assimilation, Johan, Lord Neidin

Draw Positives : Assimilation, Lord Neidin, Pactolus

Pace/Draw Positives : Assimilation, Aucterarder, Lord Neidin, Pactolus

Lord Neidin ticks all five boxes above with Asssimilation only falling down is the speed ratings, whilst Auchterarder would make up my potential three to consider.

It's then only at this point do I even take a first look at the market, as it's too easy to let the odds make your decisions for you. And I expected Lord Neidin to be the favourite, but not at 6/4. I expect he'll go on to win, but there's no value in him at 6/4 for my own risk/reward criteria, so I'd not be getting my money out there.

If I was pushed to place a bet, then Assimilation would be a relatively attractive E/W or place only proposition. If you agree with the way I process the card and you also think Lord Neidin wins, then the bet on Assimilation should be a place only, as not to waste the win side of the stake.

 

Racing Insights, 14th October 2020

Wednesday's free feature of the day is the Trainer Statistics report, one of my favourites as you'd probably guess, so let's head straight there and it's the Trainer + Course 5 year form that interests me today and I've highlighted Jedd O'Keeffe purely because he has more than one runner tomorrow, but doesn't have too many to look at in one article...

As you can see he's comfortably above all my parameters for number of qualifiers, win & place percentage, A/E and IV, plus as an added bonus he's profitable at Industry SP at a rate of more than 50p in the pound. Tomorrow he runs two Class 3 hurdlers over 2 and 3 miles respectively on Good to Soft ground (with more rain due), both to be ridden by regular jockey Joe Colliver.

Both have been off the track for around seven months, but both were in great form when lockdown arrived and will be seeking to pick up where they left off, but you'll see that for yourself shortly on the racecards.

I want to start by looking at Jedd's 8 from 32 record here at Wetherby, because it's very important to understand exactly what a stat represents and not everyone might be aware that Jedd is a dual purpose (ie Flat & NH) trainer and that Wetherby is a dual purpose track, so for the purpose of today's analysis, I want to disregard hie Flat and Bumper (NH Flat) runners at this track, leaving us with the following over the past 41 months...

Even better figures that the starting point with the ROI more than doubling and with respect to today's races, those 14 Wetherby jumpers are (and forgive me if I go a bit statty here)...

  • 5 from 13 (38.5%) under Joe Colliver
  • 5 from 12 (41.7%) from male runners (not ideal for Miah Grace admittedly)
  • 4 from 12 (33.3%) with the word soft in the going description
  • 3 from 12 (25%) over hurdles
  • 2 from 8 (25%) over a 2m trip & 1 from 2 (50%) over 3 miles
  • and 1 from 2 (50%) at Class 3
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Not huge sample sizes to hang your hat on, but the win % figures are promising and I now want to turn away from the query tool to look at the racecards, speed ratings, instant expert and the report suite for each race, starting with Mr Scrumpy as follows...

As you can see, Mr Scrumpy has two wins and a runner-up finish over the last year, he was a winner last time out at Newcastle in a Class 2 contest on Soft ground, having kicked off that sequence/season with a win here at Wetherby in early November in a 15-runner soft ground Class 3 affair. He'd been off the track for 201 days that time around, yet stayed on to win by four lengths, so a 214 day layoff doesn't concern me too much.

The reports back up the trainer statistic details and also show how well Jedd's horses get on with Joe Colliver on their backs generally and not just here at Wetherby.

The speed ratings for the race are as follows...

...and they too offer encouragement for those seeking to place a bet at a reasonable price. next up is the Instant Expert tab of the racecard and that doesn't really tell us very much...

...other than the first note of caution. Mr Scrumpy runs off 129 today, a career high and some 5lbs higher than his last run/win, so a best-ever performance is needed. That said, this is technically an easier race to win that either of last season's two successes and if in the right frame of mind first time up, 5lb might not be able to anchor him. After all, it's only a bag of spuds 😉

And now to the 5yr old mare, Miah Grace (reminds me a little of my 15 yr old daughter, Mia who herself is a bit of a mare sometimes but without the grace)...

...who like stablemate Mr Scrumpy was in fine form pre-lockdown, winning three times and placing twice from five efforts over hurdles under Joe Colliver. The runner-up finish was her only previous crack at the Wetherby hurdles, when beaten by just a length and a half over course and distance on soft ground. In fairness, that was a Class 2 contest and this should (on paper if nothing else) be an easier task.

Like the earlier race, the speed ratings show her in a favourable light...

...whilst Instant Expert again doesn't tell the whole story, but does point the way...

All her hurdling has been done on soft or worse ground at +/- half a furlong of today's trip under today's jockey, so she'll certainly be used to the conditions faced here, but like Mr Scrumpy, she also needs a career-best effort after being bumped up 9lbs for her last run/win of the previous campaign, so that might explain why she's twice the price of her stablemate.

Again, she's another who goes well after a break, her opening run/win last season came after six months off the track, so once again I'm not too peturbed about the lack of a run.

Summary

The stats point to good runs from both O'Keeffe hurdlers at Wetherby and I like the look of both. The only potential fly in the ointment has to be the increase in weight, but both horses have performed well in a higher grade suggesting they might be better than they'd need to be here. Clearly with a smaller hike in weight, Mr Scrumpy would seem to have a better chance, but at double digit odds, the mare might be a nice E/W flutter too.

Racing Insights, 13th October 2020

Tuesday's feature of the day is the Shortlist report, so that's where I'm going to base this piece.

So, without further ado, here is the Shortlist for Tuesday...

...where one horse, Beau Geste, leaps from the page with a maximum score of 15. He's currently available to back at around the 11/4 to 3/1 mark and I want to take a closer look at him to see if he justifies being towards the head of the market and also whether he's possibly worth sticking a quid or two on.

We'll start with the racecard...

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...which immediately alerts us to two wins and two places from his last five runs, he's dropping in class (↓1) from a 4th place finish (on turf) 44 days ago and he'll be ridden by Hollie Doyle, who herself has a good record at this venue (C5). His Geegeez Speed Rating of 79 is well clear of the next best rated, which is also another bonus.

The Instant Expert tab on the racecard adds numbers to the colours indicated on the Shortlist, as follows...

...based around the above, I can also tell you that his entire A/W career form reads 12113, all at Class 6, including the 3 from 3 here at Wolverhampton over 8.5 to 9.5 furlongs and he has finished 1211 under jockey Hollie Doyle, who herself has the C5 icon next to her name on the racecard.

In fact, since the start of 2019, Hollie has a near 1-in-5 record on this track, winning 40 of 202 races, including 32 from 89 (36%) at odds of 6/1 and shorter, 25 from 108 (23.2%) on male runners and 19 from 97 (19.6%) at Class 6, whilst she is 8 from 25 (32%) on Class 6 males sent off at 6/1 and shorter.

I don't want to labour this too much, but it's probably worth looking to see how trainer Tony Carroll fares here at Wolverhampton, as I prefer not to see trainers relying on one horse for winners and thankfully my fears on that score are allayed as he has a marginally better than 1-in-7 record here this year courtesy of 12 winners from 82.

They include 11 from 64 (17.2%) from horses with a run in the previous seven weeks, 10 from 62 (16.1%) for male runners, 9 from 30 (30%) from those sent off at odds ranging from 5/4 to 9/2, 8 from 51 (15.7%) from 3/4 yr olds and 6 from 23 (26.1%) over trips of 8.5 to 9.5 furlongs, whilst his 3/4 yr old males at 5/4 to 9/2 are 5 from 10 (50%) having ran in the previous 7 weeks and they include 2 from 2 in the last 6 weeks alone.

Whether Beau Geste goes on to win here or not, there are plenty of useful angles above that you can put into your query tool to generate future runners/winners going forward. Research is always a long-term project and whilst instant success is always welcome, it's not the be all and end all.

Summary

Beau Geste is currently the 11/4 favourite in the early market and the above analysis would appear to back that up. He's better than his last 4th place effort would suggest when staying on under hands and heels after being hampered on ground probably a bit to soft for him.

Can he win here? I'd say so, despite him being a hold-up horse. The pace profile of this contest suggests that he shouldn't win, but with a 3 from 3 record at this track, being held up hasn't stopped him yet. He might need some luck in running, but Hollie Doyle knows what she's doing and the braver amongst you might wait until the race goes in-play for a higher price on the exchanges if he is held up again.

 

Racing Insights, 12th October 2020

For Monday's piece, I'm going to look at the Trainer Statistics report and have a look at trainer George Boughey's performance in handicaps over the last year. His numbers are excellent and I'm going to see if there are any suggestions/pointers within the racecards and report suite to suggest if he's likely to add to the tally soon.

So, I suppose the best place to start is the Trainer Stats, 1 year handicap report as follows..

A good strike rate for both win and place, profitable at both win and place plus good figures for A/W and IV all point to the possibility of a winner. George has three bites of the cherry across two cards, where Yarmouth will be soft ground and it'll be heavy at Windsor. It's a Class 4, 6f contest at Windsor, whilst the Yarmouth races are both Class 5, 7f affairs, whilst the Windsor runner is the sole male of the trio.

In respect of Monday's races, George's 15 from 62 record in handicaps over the last year includes 9 wins from 30 (30%) on the Flat from which he is 2 from 2 at Yarmouth and 1 from 1 at Windsor. He 3 from 15 (20%) at Class 4 and 6 from 31 (19.35%) at Class 5, whilst males at 11/43 (25.6%) have outperformed females at 4/19 (21.1%), but none of this is negative.

Age-wise, 2yos are 2/8 (25%), 4yos are 7/21 (33.3%) and 5yos are 2/5 (40%), whilst all 15 runners have come from the 48 runners (31.25% SR) sent off at 12/1 or shorter. With an eye on the trip, 6f runners are certainly less successful at 1/8 (12.5%) as opposed to 4/17 (23.5%) over 7f, whilst overall those racing at 6-45 dslr are 13 from 47 (27.7%) and those racing is fields of 9-12 runners are 8/31 (25.8%).

And the last piece of the data jigsaw before race analysis is the the fact that George is using three jockeys. Oison Murphy hasn't ridden for the yard in the last year, but Ben Curtis is 2 from 7 (28.6%), whilst William Buick is an excellent 3 from 6 (50%).

My overall view of the data breakdown is that I'm still positive about the chances of all three so far but with an obvious caveat about Rock Sound running over a trip that the yard hasn't fared too well at. Maybe the racecards will assuage that fear? We'll not know until we look, so let's do that (in race time order as above), starting with Miss Fernanda...

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and the pace/draw heatmap, set to last three runs, because over half of the filed don't have four runs yet...

So, we see that she's drawn out in 10 of 10, but a high draw for a prominent racer has proved successful here in the past, so I'm not as concerned as I might be about the draw. We said Oisin Murphy hadn't ridden a Boughey handicapper in the last year, but he is 14 from 73 (19.2%) on this track over the last three seasons.

Miss Fernanda also tops the Geegeez Speed ratings, but I think she might well struggle here today. She did, admittedly improve from race 1 to race 2 and then again to race 3 where she won making all at Bath over 5.5f on good to firm ground. Both runs since then have been disappointing, especially her 18-length defeat over 6f at Leicester on handicap/nursery debut three weeks ago, also on good to firm. She was sent off at 18/1 that day and I'd say the market would be a good indicator of her chances on her soft ground bow.

Next up, we have Rock Sound...

No snippet from the Speed ratings, as he sits 5th of 12 on that stat and the pace/draw heatmap isn't too encouraging either at...

In his favour, however, is Ben Curtis who aside from riding a couple of winners for George Boughey over the last year is also 131053 here at Windsor so far this season and he'll now take his chance upon this 5 yr old gelding who is having his first outing since leaving Declan Carroll's yard.

He's a former winner at both 6f (fibresand) and 7f (soft/heavy) and does tend to run well towards the end of the year. He won on 5th November last year and was then a runner-up beaten by a neck a month later and that was the last we saw of him until he finished 12th of 15 at Ripon last month. That was, of course, his first run for 9 months, so he's more than entitled to come on for the pip-opener. Incidentally that win almost a year ago was also a yard debut.

He's definitely of interest and has proven form at class, trip and going.

And finally, we go back to Yarmouth and easily the most experienced (25 runs to date) of the trio, Redemptive...

She lies 4th on the Speed Ratings at 58, whilst the pace/draw heatmap isn't ideal...

...but she is what she is : a hold-up horse of late, but who has raced more prominently in the past and I wonder if the prediction of "probable lone speed" from a centrally drawn runner might just push her on a bit quicker. Jockey William Buick has a good record on the Boughey 'cappers and is 2 from 2 on this horse and also 7 from 26 (26.9%) at Yarmouth over the last two seasons including 3 from 6 over this 7f track and trip, so I'd expect him to judge the pace well enough.

It's also worth pointing out that Redemptive has won over course and distance herself. That was just over six weeks ago, also under William Buick at this grade from a hold up position. The report for the race read...held up towards rear, smooth headway 2f out, weaved between runners entering final furlong to lead...so the pace/draw heatmap might not be as bad as it first looks.

More generally...her 3 from 25 record isn't too inspiring, but she is 3 from 13 at this trip with a further 3 placed efforts. She has won on good to soft ground and did, of course score over course and distance five starts ago.

She has been in the handicapper's grip of late, but now runs off a mark just 1lb higher than her last win and her 5th place finish last time out was a better effort than it seems on paper, as she overcame an awkward start to get involved before her interest was ended by being hampered in the final furlong. One of her rivals that day has run since and landed another C5 7f hcp.

Summary

The trainer's record over the last year under Monday's conditions would suggest all three are worth a second glance, but I'd say his chances seem to improve as the day goes on. It'd be a watching brief for me in the opener, as I feel Miss Fernanda is really up against it and the market will probably show that to be true.

As for the other two, neither are obvious winners tomorrow, but both are quite capable of at least making the frame. Redemptive is marginally the most likely for me, but she's going to need a bit of luck in running waiting for the gaps to appear. If those gaps don't come, she's going to get trapped on the rail or will need switching out, which invariably loses ground.

 

Racing Insights, 10th October 2020

Still finding my feet here, folks, as this is as new to me as it is to you, but today I've chosen to look at a race for Saturday from a more familiar angle and my eye was taken by the opener on the Hexham card, as it really appealed to the statistician in me, as all the runners seem to have some good relevant stats.

So, today's piece will focus on the 12.25 Hexham : a Class 4 Novice Handicap Chase for 4yo+ over 2m4.5f on Soft ground, worth £4549 to the winner and we start with the racecard sorted alphabetically...

and as you'll see there are plenty of green form icons, red numbers denoting appearing on my angles report and blue numbers showing qualifiers from my query tool saved angles, so let's have a quick runthrough...

Bluefortytwo : jockey Danny McMenamin is 4/13 (30.8%) over the past fortnight, including 2 from 5 over fences. Trainer James Ewart is 11 from 43 (25.6%) with chasers here at Hexham since 2013, whilst on days when he only has one runner, he is 29 from 170 (17.1%) since 2017.

El Kaldoun :  is sent on a near 500-mile round trip by trainer Nicky Henderson, but that's not a worry, as since 2016 Hendo's horses running in non-Festival races more than 200 miles from home are 29 from 55 (52.7%) with a 4 from 7 (57.1%) record here at Hexham.

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Glorious Lady : is on the Geegeez Shortlist report by virtue of 2 wins and 2 places from four runs on soft and the same record at Class 4 and also 2 wins and 1 place from three races over 2m4.5f/2m5f. The green icons show that both jockey & trainer fare well here, whilst trainer Keith Dalgleish has a 19 from 51 (37.25%) record in Class 4 chases.

Hills of Connemara : trainer Susan Corbett doesn't run many handicap chasers on treacherous ground but those that have run on soft or worse are 4 from 15 (26.7%) since 2015 with a 3 from 10 (30%) record on soft ground

Kauto D'Amour : Jockey Danny Cook rides trainer Sue Smith's horses well and most people know that, but they're particularly effective in Class 3-5 handicap chases, where they are 75 from 312 (24%) including and excellent 40 from 133 (30.1%) on soft ground.

Scottish Accent : is by Golan, whose Soft ground handicap jumpers sent off at 7/2 to 14/1 are 20 from 105 (19.1%) whilst trainer Rebecca Menzies is 15 from 96 (15.6%) with handicap chasers on soft or worse ground since 2016.

The Delray Munky : is by Overbury, whose Soft ground handicap chasers are 16/89 (18%) since 2016, whilst her trainer Iain Jardine, not best known for chasers, is 11 from 45 (24.4%) with his handicap chasers on soft or worse since 2016

The Ferry Master : will be ridden by Ryan Mania who always seems to be there or thereabouts, making the frame in 43% of his rides over the last two months, including winning twice from his last seven starts. He also does well when riding for trainer Sandy Thomson and the pair are 23 from 146 (15.75%) together since 2014, including 22/71 (31%) in handicaps, 16/50 (32%) over fences and 15/45 (33.3%) in handicap chases of which they are 11 from 26 (42.3%) on soft or worse ground.

Toi Storey : is, like Scottish Accent above, trained by Rebecca Menzies whose soft ground chasers are worth a second glance, but this one will be ridden by Henry Brooke who is 3 from 12 (25%) over the fortnight and has ridden 10 winners from 36 (27.8%) for Rebecca Menzies.

Victarion : is of interest purely because he is trained by Philip Hobbs, who quite amazingly has been profitable to follow by blindly backing his Saturday handicap chasers over the last 10 years. Eight of the ten years have shown an annual profit due to the overall 19% strike rate (65/342) with today's jockey Tom O'Brien riding 15 winners from 732 (20.8%)

Western Aussie : is a lightly raced runner from the Martin Todhunter yard, a yard whose soft ground handicappers are 19/123 (15.5%) since 2014 including 9 from 56 (16.1%) over fences

Whateva Next : is trained by George Bewley, whose handicap chasers are 10 from 40 (25%) here at Hexham since 2015, including 6 from 24 (25%) at Class 4. As usual Jonathan Bewley will be in the saddle hoping to add to his tally of 10 wins from 37 (27%)

Summary

Hopefully you can see why this race fascinated me and has whetted your appetite to get in to the query tool and loads some angles in for future use. All the above angles will generate winners in the future, even if most will fail here : there can only be one winner.

The one I liked the look of for at least a place myself was the Danny Cook / Sue Smith runner : Kauto D'Amour, who won a similar novice handicap (albeit over hurdles) over 2m0.5f at Newcastle on soft ground three starts ago and when last seen back in March ran really well to finish as a runner-up at the same venue at today's class and trip, also on soft ground.

He was only beaten by a length despite two bad errors, one of which causing his saddle to slip and it's interesting that he's pitched straight into handicaps for his chasing bow. Conditions should suit him here today, as most of his runs have been at this grade, he loves the mud and has ran well here at Hexham in the past.

It's always a guessing game with chase debutants, but at (hopefully) double digit odds, Kauto D'Amour could be a nice each way option.

Racing Insights, 9th October 2020

I wrote a couple of articles during lockdown focusing mainly on 2yr old debutants, but I had some other areas I was going to pursue and my opening glance at tomorrow's cards and reports jogged my memory about one of them. As many of you will already know, I firmly believe that trainers are creatures of habit operating under the old "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" adage.

I'm always interested in trainers who excel at a certain distance and not a quirky one like 6.5 furlongs etc and today I want to look at Roger Varian, because my notebook tells me to look out for his 1m4f handicappers and this is highlighted in tomorrow's Trainer Snippets...

Now this is a 2-year snapshot of all his handicappers racing at trips beyond 1m3.5f, so for the exact 1m4f numbers, we head over to the query tool, which shows that all Roger's runners over the last two years are...

whilst his 1m4f handicappers fare considerably better from a profit point of view at...

Of the above three quoted three flat-stayers, Zeeband will be disregarded for today's piece as he runs over 1m6f, leaving us with two 3 yr olds to look at : Shandoz and Progressive.

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The former will be ridden by David Egan in a tricky-looking Class 2, 17-runner contest on soft ground, whilst Daniel Muscutt rides the latter in a 12-runner Class 4 affair on Polytrack. To assess their respective chances, I first want to take you back to Roger's 10/49 record over the last two years in 1m4f handicaps, because they show...

  • 10 wins from 31 at SP odds of 10/3 to 11/1
  • 9 from 34 on the Flat (so better for Shandoz)
  • 8 from 35 from 3 yr olds (both)
  • 4 from 15 for David Egan (Shandoz)
  • 4 from 7 in 12-runner contests (Progressive)
  • 4 from 14 at Class 2, but only 1 from 9 at Class 4 (Shandoz again)

So, based on the stats, Shandoz would appear to be the most likely of the pair, but let's look closer at the cards/reports etc.

And Instant Expert...

...plus the pace/draw heat map...

All seem to put Shandoz in a very favoured light. He's by Golden Horn, whose 1m4f handicappers are 11 from 24 (45.83% SR) with six of the last nine all winning. The step up to these 1m4f handicaps has done Shandoz a world of good as he's 2 from 2 in this sphere, thanks to back to back successes at Ascot.

He signed off his 2yr old campaign with a win over 8.5f at Wolverhampton in late September 2019, before reappearing at Ascot 2 months ago having been rested for some 322 days, getting up late to land that Class 3 contest by a shorthead.

He then had four weeks rest before winning a Class 2 contest more comfortably on Good to Soft ground, beating the re-opposing Cepheus in the process. I'm not convinced the handicapper has him just yet despite a 7lb rise and I think there's more to come from him after another month's rest. Avoiding traffic/trouble will be the key to his fortunes here.

And onto Progressive at Kempton...

...which also shows that Roger Varian has a good record here at Kempton (21% SR since 2016) signified by the C5 icon and also the fact that he's one of my trainers to follow here on my angles. Instant Expert is somewhat less conclusive/helpful, unfortunately...

Pace/draw is also pretty inconclusive, as there's no real pattern here at Kempton in 1-12 runner contests over 1m4f for either running style or draw, other than you don't want a pace score of 1, as hold up horses do poorly here.

This 3yr old filly has only ran three times so far, but has shown some promise and improvement already. She won second time out on her A/W debut when bagging a 1m2f Class 5 contest up at Newcastle, where she battled well to get back up by a neck after being headed a furlong out.

Her latest effort was 24 days ago at Yarmouth, stepped up in both class and trip and she gave another account of herself when beaten by just a length into fourth place. The winner and runner-up (Colony Queen & Dusk) re-oppose today and our girl is now a pound better off with the winner and Dusk has had a jockey change.

Summary

Roger Varian's 1m4f handicappers have a great record and are always worth a second glance. Three year olds fare really well as do those priced around the 3/1 to 11/1 mark. Jockey David Egan has a better record than most, whilst those on the Flat considerably outperform A/W runners.

Two possibles for Friday and both have a real live chance of landing the spoils. Shandoz will need to stay handy but out of traffic/trouble or the 7lb excess will catch up with him if he has too much to do late on, whilst Progressive needs to continue to be progressive (sorry, couldn't resist!) and continue to improve. If she handles the new surface, I'd expect her to be there or thereabouts once again.

Racing Insights, 8th October 2020

We looked at two runners at Sedgefield on Wednesday and we'd hoped Snookered would go well if his jumping was decent. Sadly we never really found out how good/bad he was as he was never in the race. The leader and subsequent winner was allowed to dictate and got home comfortably/unchallenged. As for Snookered's jumping, it was largely decent, but a couple of mistakes late on put paid to any hope of getting near the winner.

I wasn't too bullish about Crackdeloust later on the card and he finished 6th of 11 starters (8 finished) at 12/1.

Next up is...

Thursday 8th October

Feature of the Day is the Instant Expert option for all races, which is free on Thursdays to all registered subscribers. Register here if you need to.

And the free races of the day are as follows...

4.40 Southwell
4.45 Thurles
5.00 Exeter
6.15 Southwell
7.00 Chelmsford
8.30 Chelmsford

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And I think we'll take a look at the 7.00 Chelmsford : a 12-runner, Class 3, A/W handicap for 3yo+ over 5f on the Polytrack, worth £7,439 to the winner which looks very competitive, but let's see if we can find a way in, starting with the racecard...

...which tells us Grandfather Tom's yard is in good nick and he's top of our ratings, whilst Daschas, Jack The Truth and Top Breeze hail from yards with good records at this venue. Jockey-wise, Firepower and Amomentofmadness are ridden by in-form jocks with good course records and the riders on Benny And The Jets and Daschas have also fared well here.

Amomentofmadness and Firepower are the only class droppers here today, whilst seven of their rivals (Nos 5, 6, 7, 9, 10, 11 & 12) are all stepping up a grade or even two in Moonraker's case.

Feature of the Day is the Instant Expert option, so I've taken a snippet of the Best of Instant Expert report, showing some of the runners from this race...

and here's how it translates to the Instant Expert tab on the card...

...where Lancelot du Lac is a standout. Overall we have six with 30%+ strike rates on the A/W, although ideally you want more than 1 win as proof, whilst Jack the Truth clearly likes coming here and with 3 wins and a place from 7 visits here, he shares an identical course record with Lancelot du Lac with both of them featuring on the Horses for Courses report.

Now I just want to set the data aside for a moment and share where my mind was at before I started cutting bits from the site. An initial glance at the racecard allied with what I've already seen or knew about these runners, I had four in mind (alphabetically Grandfather Tom, Jack The Truth, Lancelot du Lac & Top Breeze). Nothing I've quoted above has put me off any of them and I still think the winner will come from that quartet, so let's have a look at each...

Grandfather Tom won at Yarmouth over this trip last time out, but this is tougher at 5lbs and one class higher. He has won seven times at this trip and 3 times on the A/W, but has no A/W win in over two and a half years and has never scored beyond Class 4. A positive note is that jockey Hollie Doyle rides for the first time and she's 4 from 10 on Robert Cowell's runners over the last year and as a confirmed front runner heading our ratings has to be in the mix from the inside draw.

Jack The Truth comes here seeking a hat-trick of course and distance wins, but has to carry a 5lb penalty for those two wins, the latest of which was a week ago where he looked like 5lbs might not anchor him. His record on the A/W and at sprint trips is very good but he does tend to fare better with a longer rest than that and this might just come too quickly for him after his best ever effort.

Lancelot Du Lac is clearly not the horse he used to be when competing in Group 1 contests and it's some 17 races and almost two and a half years since he last won, but this very likeable 10 yr old ran well a fortnight ago at Kempton considering he'd been off the track for eight months. He has two wins and a runner-up finish from three efforts over this track and trip, he's drawn right next to Grandfather Tom and if encouraged to get on with it could easily make the frame off his lowest mark (OR) in over seven years.

Top Breeze has been a bit up and down since winning a Class 2 handicap over this trip at Lingfield just before lockdown and struggled for consistency finishing 67492. That said, he's an A/W runner in my eyes and four of those five defeats were on turf. He did, however, go well on the concrete at Bath last time out finishing second, 0.75 lengths behind a horse winning back to back contests. Jockey Tyler Heard takes 7lbs off today, effectively putting this one on his lowest ever mark.

Summary

I think the winner of this this competitive handicap comes from Grandfather Tom, Jack The Truth, Lancelot du Lac & Top Breeze and I can find pros and cons about all four without selecting or disregarding any in particular. It's at this point that I take a look at the market and it seems that others agree with me, as I've named four of the top five in the market. The only minor surprise is how relatively short the old boy Lancelot du Lac is.

A watching brief for me, but hopefully there's something of value above.

 

Racing Insights, 7th October 2020

Tuesday's race at Leicester went the way that some of my musings thought they might. Acclaim The Nation did lead with Ainsdale taking over before feeling the toll of added weight on heavy ground. This left the door open for eventual winner Blue de Vega who had a good pace/draw markup on our cards and was hailing from an in-form yard.

Next up is...

Wednesday 7th October

Feature of the Day is the Trainer Statistics report, which is free on Wednesdays to all registered subscribers. Register here if you need to.

And today I'm going take a look at the Trainer Stats report, Course 365 day Year view.  This report give us the option to filter what would otherwise be a very long list and I've always set mine at 15 runs minimum, A/E of at least 1.25 and an IV of 1.50 and upwards.

There's an excellent explanation about A/E & IV right here.

So, if we cut to the report...

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...where the one I'm going to look at is Brian Ellison, who happens the be the only unprofitable one to follow at SP, suggesting more analysis of his Sedgefield runners is needed to avoid the losers. Clicking the show/hide inline button ie...

...reveals two runners to look at...

Danny Cook will ride the 6 yr old gelding Snookered in a 4-runner, Class 4 Novice chase over 2m0.5f, whilst Nathan Moscrop will claim 3lbs aboard a former course and distance winner, the 8 yr old gelding Crackdeloust in a another Class 4 contest, this time in a handicap hurdle over 2m1f.

A quick look at Brian Ellison's 8 Sedgefield winners over the last year shows that all 8 were males sent off at 9/2 or shorter and 6 had ran in the previous 45 days. There's a 5:3 spilt for handicap/non-handicap and a similar spilt for hurdles to chases. Six yr olds are 3 from 5 and October runners are 3 from 4, so plenty of encouragement on the breakdown.

Now to Snookered's race...

We see that Danny Cook is in good form right now and rides plenty of winners here at Sedgefield over the years so lots of positives there, whilst it's interesting to see that Snookered himself has finished 2111 in four visits to this track. His jumping will have to be taken on trust as (a) this is his chasing debut and (b) he hasn't even raced over hurdles for almost 9 months.

The distance record of 4/16 actually includes 3 wins and 2 places from 7 over hurdles at trips of 2m0.5f to 2m1f, so the trip should be ideal for him here today, we'd just want his jumping to hold up.

Now onto Crackdeloust...

..who it's obviously a bit harder to make a case for. And a look at the profiler tab tells us that he's actually won just 2 of 21 starts so far. However, both wins came at Class 4, off higher marks than today, going left-handed and after 3-4 weeks rest and all apply here today. He has one win at this trip, one at this track and one on good ground and all three came together for a course and distance win here back in April 2017.

Summary

Two runners who'll probably fare very differently. If Snookered takes to the fences at the first time of asking, plenty of other variables are in his favour and I'd expect him to go well. He's in good hands with Danny Cook and my only other concern other than a first crack at fences is that other statters will cotton and back him down to an artificially low price.

Crackdeloust, on the other hand, isn't as well suited by the task ahead. He ran well for fourth last time out after more than six months off the track, but without intending disrespect, the jockey booking doesn't fill me with confidence, nor does good ground. This lad needs it softer in my opinion, so he's going to have to pray for rain. Based on old ability, he's more than good enough to be involved in the shake-up here, but there are more than a couple I'd rather pick as a winner. That's not to say he couldn't grab a place at double-digit odds, but it's unlikely.