Racing Insights, 29th March 2021

Monday heralds the start of a new week and the PACE tab is available to all readers for all races, including our 'races of the day', which are...

  • 2.40 Fontwell
  • 3.10 Fontwell
  • 3.20 Stratford
  • 6.20 Wolverhampton

The latter of those four is best suited to analysis, even if it is only a Class 5, A/W handicap over 1m1.5f. The three NH races are fairly small fields with an expected short priced favourite, so we're off to the 6.20 Wolverhampton, where we expect them to line up as follows...

My first thoughts on this were that it's a decent/competitive looking contest for such a low-grade affair and that I'd already expect to be able to make a case for at least four or five of them here, which makes it an ideal race to run through the Geegeez toolbox. Applying my normal processes should either narrow the field down for us or it will tell us to walk away. As ever, I'm perfectly happy with both outcomes, we don't advocate betting for the sake of it.

We've just three recent (one LTO) winners in the field and Geegeez Speed ratings are heavily stacked towards Arthur's Angel. We've a couple coming back for their first runs of 2021, five handicap debutants, two making a second handicap run, one has changed yards and two are up in class, so plenty going on here!

Deep Impression is one of three fillies in the race and she carries top weight here. She had 1 win and 1 place from 4 on the Flat as a 2 yr old and has a nother win and another place from five A/W efforts since. Her wins have come at 7.5 and 8 furlongs so far and she ran creditably in a 2.5 length defeat at Southwell as a runner-up last time out, conceding 6lbs to the winner.

Tricolore is one of two Marco Botti-trained runners in the race and the booking of Hollie Doyle in the saddle suggests he's the first string. Stefano Cherchi has been the jockey for the horse's previous three outings, but he's on The Thunderer today.

As for Tricolore, he had two decent efforts over 7f on the Flat, before a handicap debut on the A/W at Kempton over a mile, where he was a runner-up. He was beaten by more than four lengths that day and has still been raised a pound by the assessor and after six months off track, might well need the run.

He's A Dream makes a handicap debut here for a yard who has 4 winners and 4 placers from 15 on handicap debut over the last year. The horse comes here off the back of four previous runs that could be described as ordinary at best, including a 23 length defeat when last home of 7 over 1m2f on the tapeta at Newcastle last time out. He has raced over C&D here, finishing 5th of 13 in January and he's not one I fancy.

The Thunderer is the other Marco Botti horse here, as mentioned above and his record to date stands at just one place from three runs, all here at Wolverhampton and he was 10th of 13 over course and distance last time out, ten weeks ago. His new jockey's 5lb allowance will be vital if he's to get involved here, but that looks a longshot on handicap debut.

Thunder Lily is another of the three fillies here and like the horse above, she has just one placed finish from her three previous runs. That was over a mile at Kempton mid-July and she was 5th of 9 last time out. All three previous runs have been at his level, but horses get sent off at 50/1, 125/1 and 33/1 for a reason. Handicap debut & Tapeta debut today, but others look better suited.

Liberated Lad left three modest novice runs over 7f behind him when winning on handicap debut over 1m2f at Lingfield last time out on easily his best run to date. Lots of change since that run, though. New yard, new surface to tackle, down in trip, up in class and raised three pounds. This will be more difficult than his last run, but he showed guts and spirit. A similar effort puts him in the mix here.

Your first 30 days for just £1

Arthur's Angel is also up in class here after three solid efforts at Class 6, culminating in a defeat by just a head and a nose over 8.5f here on Saturday. If he runs here, he'll be off the same mark, but assisted by a 5lb jockey claim and the way he stayed on in Saturday's contest suggests the extra furlong could also help.

Mustang Kodi didn't really show much in three outings over a similar trip to this one and was beaten by nine lengths over course and distance last time out. That alone suggests some improvement would be needed just to get competitive, but I fear that a 4-month absence will hinder his chances further and the combination of form/layoff are enough for me to say no, thank you.

Sergeant Major was a winner two starts ago, landing a 1m2f handicap at Chelmsford before stepping up in trip and class to finish as a runner-up over 1m4.5f on the tapeta at Newcastle last time out. He's now back down in trip to what I think is a better distance for him and goes off the same mark as LTO. Tapeta experience is always useful, even at another venue and that run allied to the drop in trip should put him right into considerations here.

Queen of Thorns is the last of the fillies, last on the racecard and therefore bottom weight and also the third of the three yet to be placed runners here. January runs of 9th of 12 over 7f here, followed by 7th of 10 over 8.5f here led to her finishing last of 7, beaten by 16 lengths at Lingfield in a 7f Novice race six weeks ago and she looks massively out of her depth here on handicap debut even if the yard is in decent form and has a good record here at Wolverhampton with Luke Morris in the saddle.

*

My first reaction to seeing the card was that four or five were more likely than the others and I'm more firm in that belief now having looked at each of them. As things stand, I'm leaning towards the four who have already won a race (Arthur's Angel, Deep Impression, Liberated Lad & Sergeant Major) plus Tricolore who has shown promise in defeat. I'm already fairly switched off about the likes of He's A Dream, Mustang Kodi & Queen of Thorns who haven't yet made the frame in 10 combined starts, whilst the remaining two (The Thunderer & Thunder Lily) look a little outclassed here.

That doesn't mean I've got the split right yet, of course, so I need to dig deeper. 

The field have only made the frame 14 times in 48 starts, a pretty poor 29.2% and with only 5 wins (10.4% SR) between them, I'm probably going to get more data/info from the place stats on Instant Expert than I will from wins alone, but I'll show you both, naturally...

Deep Impression's place record at Class 5 is excellent, as is Tricolore's, whilst Arthur's Angel also stands out here, but as for winning races...

...there's not a lot to discuss, is there? Our four past winners all have an A/W success to their name, Deep Impression has two wins at Class 5 and we've a couple with distance wins.

Instant Expert hasn't shaken my view about halving the field the way I did, I haven't discounted any of my five and I haven't seen much in the way of persuasion to promote any of the five I don't fancy. Maybe the draw, the pace make-up of the race and the way pace and draw interact will sway me.

So, starting with the draw stats from 214 previous similar contests...

It says that no particular stall is massively disadvantaged, but if you could pick and choose where to be berthed, then I'd want stalls 4 to 8 which have provided almost 60% of the winners from 50% of the runners. Stall 6's figures do look a little anomalous, yet they add weight to a stall 5 to 7 slight bias with 60 winners (28% of the 214 winners) in 5/6 and 57 (26.6%) in 6/7. This should be good news for the likes of Libeated Lad and Tricolore from my favoured five.

It's all well and good grabbing the best stall, of course. For example, Mustang Kodi has box 6, which is a good place to be according to those draw stats above, but how/where you run your run is as if not more important on races like these. Personally, I think the draw carries some weight, but he longer the trip, the easier it should (in theory) become to overcome a poor-looking draw, which means pace and race positioning are key.

Thanks to the data we collect, we can quickly see that in these contests, that racing prominently or in mid-division is often the best policy...

..as both have an IV of above 1.0. Hold-up horses don't particularly struggle, winning just 9% less often than you'd expect, but those who try to win it from the front really don't fare too well.

With a mid-draw looking best and mid-pack being a favourable racing spot here, you'll not be surprised at what are the preferred pace/draw combinations...

and thanks to us logging how every horse runs every race, we can superimpose the recent running styles of our ten entrants upon that heatmap like this...

That's in draw order from 1 to 10 and whilst there doesn't appear to be an abundance of pace around, He's A Dream and Liberated Lad might be the ones to show first in what I feel could well be a slow, tactical affair. If that does become the case, it will negate any perceived (or real) draw bias and the finishers will prevail.

Summary

I had four or five in mind for this one before I even typed a word. The analysis of the racecard and my individual look at each of the runners confirmed my thoughts. Instant Expert further cemented that opinion and pace/draw didn't really sway me in either direction, so I'm still at the same stage as I was, but with more confidence than just an initial though, if that makes sense.

I obviously can't go with five, so I'm removing Deep Impression and Liberated Lad at this stage. I think the former beats the latter (just), but both have narrowly failed to make my final three. DI is probably too high in the weights having gone up further after a defeat, whilst LL needs to improve to win here.

This, of course, leaves us, alphabetically, with Arthur's Angel, Sergeant Major and Tricolore and I think, that's probably the order I have them in. I should stress that this really is competitive/tight for a Class 5 winter A/W handicap and I wouldn't be surprised at all if any of my favoured five won it.

It looks like the bookies agree with me at 5.50pm about the five with four of them priced at 9/2 to 11/2 with Deep Impression 5th fav at 11/2 to 9/1. That 9/1 looks big actually and could be worth a small E/W tickle, but it's Arthur's Angel at 9/2 for me if he runs.

Racing Insights, 27th March 2021

No joy at Musselburgh today other than predicting Caldwell might try and set the pace, which he did to good effect. The ones I liked finished down the field, although my third choice was the runner-up.

I hope for better on Saturday, where we're all assisted by access to the Trainer/Jockey Combo report and our 'free races' are as follows...

  • 2.15 Kempton
  • 2.25 Navan
  • 2.35 Doncaster
  • 3.15 Kelso
  • 4.55 Doncaster
  • 8.30 Wolverhampton

And I think we'll take a look at the Trainer/Jockey Combo report from a 5-year course handicap record...

...to see if any of those three qualifiers might go on to improve the already decent stats. Chronological order works best for me, so we'll start with Duc de Grissay in the 1.35 Kelso...

I won't bore you by regurgitating the stats that I've copied/pasted from the racecard, but they are worth a second glance as they're pretty good. The horse has little experience in similar races to this one and comes here needing some improvement to get back to the kind of form he displayed last season when finishing third on his chasing debut before winning here at Kelso over 2m7.5f on heavy ground. He started this term well enough with a reasonable fourth at Sedgefield and looked like landing the Borders National here in December before falling at the last.

He then took 11 weeks off and was beaten here by 26 lengths last time out in a race of similar quality to this one. He has been eased a pound for his troubles and carries bottom weight here, but is still 7lbs higher than that Borders National run and at first glance, will need to dig deep here to get involved.

Leaders do OK in this type of contest at Kelso, but those who sit in just behind the leaders do best of all, but you certainly don't want to be much further back in the pack than that...

Your first 30 days for just £1

...and sadly Duc de Grissay looks the type who has to be waited with and is highly likely to be too far off the pace to mount a challenge.

*

Half an hour later, we then see Doyen Breed in the 2.05 Kelso...

Doyen Breed has been running consistently well for some time now, but his form has gone to a new level this season since moving to Sandy Thomson's yard during an eight month lay-off last year. He was only beaten by two lengths on his comeback and handicap debut at Wetherby and then improved to lose by just a neck off 4lb higher at Ayr at the end of November.

He was then rested for another three months before returning to Ayr stepped up in trip to beyond three miles for the first time and defied another 3lb rise to the weights to win by almost three lengths. He'll have support here, I'm sure, but he's up another 6lb and two classes and although he receives weight all round, you'd think that this is going to be tough.

Unfortunately there's not enough verified pace data to form any real judgement on whether his racing style would work here or not, but he does like to race prominently and I'm fairly sure that hold-up horses have fared better here, but that's just my own thoughts with no hard evidence!

*

Last, but hopefully not least, we have Molineaux in the 5.10 Newbury...

It's seven races and almost 15 months since this 10 yr old last tasted victory but he has been running consistently well in defeat, only going down by three or four lengths in each of his last three outings.

Unfortunately as he keeps going close, he isn't getting much (if any) respite from the assessor and is still a pound higher than that last win and when you consider that he only got home by three quarters of a length that day, you see how tight his mark is.

He has struggled here at Newbury in the past, losing all four races by a combined margin of some 70 lengths, whilst his best work seems reserved for Wincanton, but it should be noted that his trainer Colin Tizzard has provided the winner of this race in two of the last four runnings.

There's not a great deal of pace data to go off, but it seems like the further forward you can be, the better your chances. It's an admittedly small sample size of just six races, but Flaminger looks best placed to lead with Molineaux tucking in behind. Provided he doesn't go off too quickly, he could be very well positioned here, but he does have plenty of form for being caught late on!

Summary

1.35 Kelso : Duc de Grissay... Not in the best of form, doesn't look suited by race conditions and won't be close enough to the action to get involved. It looks a tight affair and I could make a good case for four or five of the eight runners, but not Duc de Grissay! It's not a race I'd want to be throwing any money at to be honest, it's just too competitive.

2.05 Kelso : Doyen Breed... Comes here in great form, but up in weight and class again and facing some decent sorts. He has every chance of making the frame, especially if you can get four places, but he's probably too short for me to go E/W on him and I fancy others ahead of him here. Cap du Nord is probably the one to beat, but I envisage sitting this one out too.

5.10 Newbury : Molineaux... Also comes here in good nick, but has a tendency to be not quite good enough off his current mark. I think he has every chance of making the frame in what look another close contest. I don't see him winning though (the fav Ruinous is most likely to do that), but Molineaux is in a tight cluster of five runners going for two places and at 5/1, there's not enough reward to cover my risk. The one that does interest me here is Isaac Wonder who looks no better or worse than Molineaux but would surely be much shorter than 14/1 had he not been off the track for over 7 months. You're essentially gambling on his fitness, but if he's ready, he could make the frame at a nice price.

I was rather hoping to get a bet or two (or even three!) from the Trainer/Jockey Combo report, but sadly that's not the case here. That, however, is no problem, as we maintain that there isn't always a bet to be had and that you should never try to force one.

 

 

Racing Insights, 26th March 2021

Thursday wasn't Racing Insight's best day, as Robinshill was last of five finishers, beaten by 11 lengths and Whoshotthesheriff was withdrawn from the action 40 minutes before the off. So I suppose, as the song would suggest, things can only get better on Friday, where I'll be assisted by 'feature of the day' aka the Horses for Courses report and we'll also have the following free 'races of the day' to tilt at...

  • 2.30 Musselburgh
  • 2.40 Newbury
  • 3.15 Newbury
  • 3.50 Newbury
  • 8.00 Dundalk

And in typical racing style, after a few days of poor racing we've several decent contests to get stuck into. Our free races include competitive-looking Class 2 and 3 heats, so I'm going to tackle what looks (on paper at least), the best of the free quintet, the 2.30 Musselburgh.

It's a 9-runner, Class 2, Handicap Hurdle for 4 yr olds over 2m0.5f on good ground that will be softer in places and the prize for this Juvenile Hurdle Series Final is a decent one at just shy of £19k. My initial (and very brief) first glance at the card suggest a 4-horse race, but here's the card in full..

En Couleur is a far way clear of the pack on the Geegeez ratings ahead of Breguet Boy, who is one of two LTO winners, along with Magna Moralia. Eight of the nine are stepping up two classes here, apart from Progressive who ran in this grade almost five weeks ago.

Feldspar has finished 335 in his three efforts over hurdles so far and was beaten by almost 19 lengths at Kelso last time out. His two previous runs were both here at Musselburgh, beaten by just over two lengths at Class 4 and then by 15 lengths in a Listed race. He was said to have finished lame at Kelso last time and so it's a bit of a surprise to see him out again less than three weeks later. Not one I'd want to back.

Breguet Boy has made the frame in all four hurdles starts to date, finishing 1231. All four have been here at Musselburgh and his two wins have been over 2m on Good and Soft ground. He's up 8lbs for winning seven weeks ago, but was comfortable that day and could well go in again, especially with his jockey riding so well right now (6/20 in the last fortnight).

Le Magnifique is the third of three Keith Dalgleish runners in this race along with Feldspar and Breguet Boy above and he has made the frame in two of his four starts over hurdles, winning once on his second effort, when catching a very short priced favourite on the run-in. He was well beaten last time out and has only been eased 2lbs for his troubles and he's not one I'd expect to win here.

Progressive is the only filly in the race and the only runner to have run at this Class 2 level last time out. Whether she's living up to her name progressive is up for debate. She won over this trip on heavy ground at Doncaster (Class 4) on hurdling debut just after Christmas and was then beaten by just over ten lengths in a Listed contest, no disgrace there, but she was last of four home at Haydock five weeks ago, some 68 lengths adrift having tailed off from 3 out. Has ability, but something doesn't quite seem right.

Your first 30 days for just £1

Magna Moralia, on the other hand, seems to be coming along nicely. A runner-up in each of his first two efforts over hurdles and not beaten by far in either during September/October, he then had a spin at 1m6f on the Flat on soft ground at Redcar and was third, beaten by just half a length on soft ground. He has tackled hurdles twice more since, finishing fourth at Catterick and then a win last time out by five lengths at Kelso after a 15-week break. He goes off a fair mark here and could well kick on.

Genever Dragon won on his hurdling debut by a length at Sedgefield in late-September but hasn't really caught the eye in three defeats since and was beaten by almost 40 lengths last time out. He's been off the track for almost 15 weeks now and might well need the run as the only runner here not to have been seen on the last seven weeks. A watching brief at best, I'd say.

Caldwell is lightly raced so far after just six starts in which he has failed to win so far. He has finished 242 over hurdles in three attempts, but has gone doen by 32L, 20L and 5L in those three. That five-length defeat at Kelso last time out when beaten by Magna Moralia (but immediately ahead of the re-opposing Le Magnifique, Monash and Feldspar) was definitely his best effort to date and he now meets his victor 8lbs better off.

En Couleur has been more consistent than spectacular or successful over hurdles so far, with a form line reading 4354, but the average margin of his defeats is only around 12 lengths, so he's not getting left behind. He heads our ratings and might relish the ground being a bit quicker than he's used to. He'd need things to fall his way, but could well threaten the places.

Monash carries bottom weight here, some 24lbs less than top-weight Feldspar and comes here off a respectable fourth place in that Kelso contest mentioned above featuring five of this field. He ran exclusively on the A/W at Newcastle in January and February and cam close to landing a couple of Class 6 handicaps over 1m2f and 1m4.5f, so he's got some ground speed. Stamina has, however, looked suspect over 2 miles and beyond and even off such a low weight, I think he struggles here.

*

Juveniles by their very definition don't have many past races to discuss or draw pointers from and as such have even fewer wins to consider, so the place view on Instant Expert is more likely to help us than the win only element, but here they both are...

Either way, Breguet Boy is the standout horse on those charts with the obvious caveat again that we're only dealing with small sample sizes. Magna Moralia's consistency is also apparent and there are other splashes of green around for other runners.

So we've an idea of how they've ran recently and we've seen their stats under today's conditions, but with many of these untested and/or unproven in similar circumstances, the pace of the race might well be the key, notwithstanding we've already got a couple of runners catching the eye.

What we do know from our Geegeez data is that prominent racers fare much much better than the other three running styles. Leaders win around half of the races they'd expect to, but do have the best place ratio. Prominent runners win 1.7 times more often than you'd think they would and make the frame 4 times every 11 attempts. Hold-up horses and mid-division runners don't win many, but those held-up do win twice as often as those just ahead of them in the pace rankings.

Numerically, that looks like this...

And here's how our four runners would race, if they all ran to the average running style of their last four contests.

This is, of course, both inconclusive and problematic as there's no leader, but every race has a leader, so a deeper dive might be needed. So, what we do is look at those last four races individually to see if we've any who might take the lead here and the data says...

...that two of them have scored 4 (ie led) twice in their last three runs. Caldwell led last time out and also three starts ago and finished as a runner-up on both occasions, not seeing the trip out, whilst Genever Dragon has led in each of his last two before being well beaten. I suspect this pair will lead out here with Breguet Boy and Magna Moralia seizing the optimal "prominent racer" berths.

Summary

I had a suspicion that this might be a four-horse race, but just two runners stand out for me. At every stage of the analysis, Breguet Boy and Magna Moralia were the eyecatchers and as such, I've got them as my 1-2 in that order and I have them well clear of the pack. On my reckoning it'll be close for third between Progressive and En Couleur.

Bookies-time (5pm)...my two against the field are 9/2 and 10/3 respectively. Breguet Boy looks a reasonable bet at that price, but MM looks a little short. The two I've got chasing the final place are 4/1 and 10/1 respectively, so whilst Progressive just shades it on my numbers, En Couleur would be the value for an E/W punt.

 

 

Racing Insights, 25th March 2021

Only two finished at Hereford earlier  and of my 1-2-3 for the race, they finished 1-NR-2, so a good day there. Our 10/3 winner was 61 lengths clear at the finish and although he was hit by a 25p Rule 4 deduction, that was still far better than the eventual 10/11 SP.

Thursday's free feature is access to Instant Expert for ALL races, including our 'races of the day' which are...

  • 2.07 Chepstow
  • 4.15 Ludlow
  • 4.25 Sedgefield
  • 5.05 Cork

And a couple have caught my eye on Instant Expert, so let's take a look at them, starting with Robinshill, who runs in the 2.45 Ludlow, a 6-runner, Class 3, 4yo+ handicap hurdle over 2m on good to soft ground and here's his racecard entry...

Team Twiston-Davies had this 10 yr old bang on when he returned from a 10 month break back in October and he rattled off a 32-day hat-trick with wins over both hurdles and fences at trips of 2m to 2m1f. He wasn't quite at this best when beaten by 15 lengths in the unsuitable mud over this course and distance last time out when looking a bit rusty after three months rest. Having had that run, I'd expect him to go better here and he won't have heavy ground to contend with this time and he's down a pound in the weights.

His Instant Expert figures are great with a whole line of green. He has a 10 from 39 career record, including 6 wins from 15 going left handed and 5 from 21 in a tongue tie. Sam Twiston-Davies has ridden him to victory twice and he's a former course and distance winner.

Your first 30 days for just £1

Horses who lead do well here at Ludlow and as you'll now see, Robinshill is a confirmed front runner...

...and the lack of any other pace in this race suggests he could well set off quickly, open up a soft win and not get caught. I'm fairly sure that'll be the plan anyway!

*

And then just 7 minutes after that race, Whoshotthesheriff runs in the 2.52 Sedgefield, a five-runner, Class 4, Novices Chase over 2m3.5f on good ground and here's how he looks on the card...

He has finished 21431 in his five starts over fences to date, all since coming back form a 22-day absence back in mid-October last year. Last seen winning a similar contest to this one (same class, trip, jockey) by 15 lengths at Catterick three weeks ago, he's sure to be popular on the basis of that run. Chuck in some good recent numbers from his yard (12 from 59 over the last 30 days improving to 6 from 23 in the last fortnight) and we might well have an odd-on jolly on our hands, but I hope not.

As you can see, he really has done well at Class 4 including that win LTO and as well as that chase form I mentioned earlier, he was also decent over hurdles, winning three of nine and showing some decent ground speed. Mind you, his "father" Dylan Thomas was no slouch on the Flat and has a near 19% strike rate with 5f sprinter offspring!

The ground is good here, but a bit of rain would help more than hinder, as he's two form four on good to soft, whilst he's 5 from 12 with Sean Quinlan in the plate and 2 from 4 running in March, so conditions look ideal.

Pace-wise, you want to be upfront or very close to the action in races like this, but there doesn't seem to be a natural leader amongst the small field...

...however, I've looked back at his career wins and his best runs have come when either leading or tracking the leader and trainer Philp Kirby's not behind the door when it comes to tactics. He'll know there's little pace in the contest and that his horse can win from a more advanced position and I suspect he'll ne nearer the front than the back throughout.

Summary

Two seemingly well-suited runners, two small fields, one over hurdles, one over fences, but can they win?

Simply, yes, I think they can and more importantly I think they will! I think Robinshill has more on his rivals than Whoshotthesheriff has, but I suspect the latter will be odds on and I'll find him difficult to back if so, as I don't quite see him as a 50/50 shot. So, I'd better look at the market...

Hmmm, interestingly Robinshill is available at 5/1, so that could be very good value unless I've hopelessly misread the situation, whilst Whoshotthesheriff is currently (5.10pm) a 6/5 shot. I think I might well back both and a small double to boot!

Racing Insights, 24th March 2021

Tuesday's race didn't quite pan out the way I expected, but it still went well enough to provide with a 5/1 winner. The overnight favourite drifted like a barge and the layers were right about him. Thankfully so were we!

And now to Wednesday, where the 'feature of the day'  is the Trainer Stats report, whilst our 'free races of the day' are...

  • 1.45 Market Rasen
  • 1.55 Tipperary
  • 3.12 Haydock
  • 4.25 Hereford

And the last of that quartet looks quite interesting. Only five are set to go to post for the 4.25 Hereford, but my first impression is that at least four of them could win it! It's only a Class 5 Mares handicap chase over 2m5f on Good ground, but it might be a fascinating encounter at the lower end of the spectrum. Here's how they line up...

Secret Court has yet to make the frame in nine start (2 x NHF, 5 x Hrd, 2 x Chs) and has failed to complete her last three races after unseating her rider on her chase debut at Leicester ahead of a fall at Ludlow. She reverted back to hurdles last time out, possibly to regain a little jumping confidence, but didn't see 2m3.5f, being pulled up before the last hurdle.

Carpool was probably politely described as a modest hurdler at best, after making the frame just three times in a winless 14-race career and was left to run her own race on chase debut last time out. They'd thrown her straight into a Class 3 contest on heavy ground and without really getting involved in the race, finished third of six, but beaten by some 50 lengths. She's down two classes here and should come on for having had the run, but I'm worried that she's already a perennial loser.

Your first 30 days for just £1

Barden Bella made a few jumping errors last time out and eventually fell quite heavily two out in a heavy ground 3m1f contest, having won on her chase debut a month earlier. That win came over 1m7.5f on soft ground at Catterick, so today's contest is in between the two, distance wise and on quicker ground. Her mark is unaltered from last time, but I'm unsure how she'll react to the fall allied to running on quicker ground (good to firm didn't suit her).

Pottlereaghexpress is another yet to win after several attempts, 17 in total! SHe was placed in just 2 of 12 over hurdles, but has finished 3023232 since moving to Toby Lawes yard, the last five of those runs being her chase career to date. Unlike Carpool above, I don't see this as a perennial loser just yet, her form over fences suggests she wouldn't be winning out of turn, but she has been tough to follow from a financial point of view!

Leave My Alone brings the best recent form to the table here, with finishes of 212 in her last three starts. She stays beyond three miles and does most of her racing on mud, so the trip might be a bit sharp for her on quick ground here, but she is the form horse and ran really well to get within three lengths of Ring The Moon last time out.

*

In a race shy of many past victories over fences, I thought it'd be best to consider the Instant Expert in place mode...

Two of the three in green have gone on to win over fences already, but now race off much higher marks, whilst Pottlereaghexpress might be about to win for the first after knocking on the door several times lately.

From a pace perspective, these small-field races can become tactical affairs and whilst leading or racing prominent has proved to be successful here in the past...

...I think we need to tread carefully with the pace map, as three of these five have two chase runs or fewer, but here's how we think they might set out...

Barden Bella has actually led in each of her last two starts, so she'll probably lead them along here ahead of Leave My Alone who seems to always race prominently. Carpool was a fairly prominent racer over hurdles, whilst both Pottlereaghexpress and Secret Court are sure to be waited with.

Summary

There's not a great deal to go off, but I think this is Pottlereaghexpress' best chance of getting off the mark and although Barden Bella might well attempt to set the pace, I think she'll be swallowed up by Leave My Alone, who I fancy to finish second here.

So, it's Pottlereaghexpress at 10/3 to beat Leave My Alone at 3/1 for me here. 

Racing Insights, 23rd March 2021

Tuesday is my 20th wedding anniversary to the long-suffering Mrs W. To mark this suspicious auspicious occasion, we open up the Shortlist Report to ALL readers, along with full access to the following "races of the day"...

  • 12.30 Huntingdon
  • 1.15 Wetherby
  • 2.20 Wetherby
  • 4.05 Clonmel

Sadly, there's not much jumping out at me from the Shortlist Report and of our four feature races, the first of the two Yorkshire contests probably lends itself best to my analysis. It's not an ideal race to assess, as it looks a two-horse race on paper, but our processes are still the same and even if we conclude it will be a two-horse race, we might just find ourselves a decent E/W punt for the third place in the 1.15 Wetherby, a Class 5, Conditional Jockeys Handicap Hurdle over two miles on good to soft ground, where they line up as follows...

Aquitaine Boy and Top beak are someway clear of the pack on Geegeez ratings, whilst the latter is one of two LTO winners, along with Peltwell, who sits third on the ratings.

Our Rodney had one decent run over 6f on the Flat, when narrowly winning a maiden back in September 2018. Hasn't really shown much in nine runs since on A/W, Flat and over hurdles with his best effort coming when third in a 2m0.5f hurdle at Stratford last August. That said, he was still 10 lengths off the pace and although down in class/weight here and the yard back amongst the winners (3/13 in the last fortnight), he looks an unlikely victor here.

Lleyton seems to have been everywhere, having raced in Ireland and the UK on the A/W. the Flat, in bumpers, over hurdles and even chasing. He won a couple of A/W handicaps over 1m6f last October and was a runner-up in a bumper two starts ago, but was pulled up before the last hurdle over a longer trip last time out. Has the chance of a place, but jumping can be sketchy.

Rukwa was running well in A/W staying handicaps at Newcastle before Christmas, but hasn't tackled a hurdle since mid-October 2020 when beaten by 25 lengths off just four pounds higher at Huntingdon, so improvement is needed here, especially for a yard desperately out of form and with a poor record at this venue.

Top Beak has been second and then first in his last two outings, both handicap selling hurdles. he was beaten by 18 lengths on soft ground at Fakenham a month ago before winning by 7.5 lengths on good to soft at Catterick 13 days ago, taking advantage of a 3lb drop in weight. He's up 6lbs for that win and with his jockey's claim reduced to 3lbs here, he's effectively 10lbs higher than LTO and might not be the shoo-in people think.

Argus hasn't completed a race over hurdles since finishing last of 10 at Bangor back in October 2017, beaten by some 65 lengths. He had been running pretty well on the A/W in the interim, though, before reverting to hurdling in January. Sadly, he was pulled before 2 out in both hurdles starts since the switch back to this sphere and he's not one I'd want to have to rely on.

Your first 30 days for just £1

Brawny is an unusual runner, in so much that I'm struggling to find anything positive at all to write about him. Yet to make the frame in 17 attempts across A/W, Flat, Bumpers and Hurdles, I fully expect that to become 0 from 18 here. His narrowest defeat over hurdles is 13 lengths and that pretty much sums him up for me.

Aquitaine Boy was well beaten in two bumpers but suggested promise/ability when fourth on hurdles debut despite being off the track for 293 days. Sadly he hasn't kicked on from there and in three runs since he has been pulled up and then beaten by 74 lengths and 51 lengths. He's only a pound better off here and 51 lengths is a lot to find!

Peltwell took full advantage of a dropping handicap mark to narrowly win a big-field handicap at Wincanton last time out. She was just a short head clear at the post over 1m7.5f hanging on gamely. She might have only just edged it, but she was 12 lengths and more clear of the rest of the pack, so she can be judged to have run a decent race. She raced wide at times that day and hit a couple of hurdles. A tighter line and improved jumping could see her go in again and defy a 7lb rise. There's an interesting jockey change here with in-form Danny McMenamin (6/26 in the last fortnight) taking the ride, which could also help.

Just Got To Get On doesn't inspire me to get on, if I'm honest. A close third on bumper debut just over two years ago is his career highlight. Since then, progressively bigger defeats of 30, 64 and 115 lengths preceded him being pulled up last time out. The only thing I can think of here, is a series of poor runs designed to get him a lowly opening mark. After all, there's no way he should have been in a Listed race last time out.

Farocco has made the frame over hurdles on just two occasions from twenty and they came in back to back contests in June/July 2018. He generally gets beaten by 20 to 40 lengths and there's little to suggest that won't be the case again today.

Kisumu completes this sorry excuse of a field and comes here "boasting" a 0 from 51 record. Yes, 0 from 51! But that's not just over hurdles, he's "only" 0 from 35 over hurdles and has made the frame five times. And in his defence, he was a one-length runner-up over course and distance in this very race last year. Mind you, he was sent off as the 15/8 fav that day and that won't be happening here either. Plus as if his poor recent form wasn't enough of a hindrance, he's 4lbs out of the handicap here.

*

Well, you can definitely tell that we're in that between Cheltenham & Aintree dead zone, where the programme is full of poor horses in poor races and this is no exception. Between the eleven of them, this field have raced on 270 previous occasions, making the frame just 54 (20% SR) times and going on to win just 19 (7%) of them. I might be wrong (but I probably won't be), but I'm guessing we'll not glean too much from Instant Expert from a win perspective and that even the place stats might not great reading, but let's try anyway...

Not many surprises there and the three "best" placed on the win graphic are all carrying much more weight that their last win, but at least they've won recently! Hopefully the pace stats will help me out, otherwise I'm relying on form, my write-ups and gut feeling here.

Up top or nearby is ideally where you want to be here at Wetherby...

...but the last four runs for this bunch say there's absolutely no pace in the race at all and we think it might well be falsely run. Here are the four-race averages...

...which is inconclusive, but if we then consider the horses' two most recent efforts...

...it might well be that Top Beak will try to win this off the front end with Kisumu possibly attempting to keep him company early on.

Summary

This isn't as cut and dried as I hoped it would be after analysing the data/evidence, but I'm happy enough to share my thoughts/opinions on what looks a poor race. I don't give many of these a chance of winning and many of them are perennial losers, but the three I fancy to do best are (alphabetically, of course!) Lleyton, Peltwell and Top Beak. Lleyton offers the best E/W value at 8/1 and I've got him in third.

This means I've ended up where I feared I might, the original two-horse race, but I'm not siding with the fav here. My preference is the 7/2 Peltwell ahead of 2/1 Top Beak. The latter won't be the shoo-in people think and I think he'll just miss out whilst conceding weight to this gutsy mare. Sometimes in this low-grade contests, grit and determination can make up for some ability and she showed she had something, if not balls, last time out.

 

Racing Insights, 22nd March 2021

The new week starts here! And whilst the quality of racing over the next seven days will struggle to get anywhere near that of the previous seven, there are still races to be won. To help all our readers find those winners, we offer a 'feature of the day' and full access to a number of 'races of the day' to all subscribers, regardless of whether they're paying us for Gold membership or not.

Monday's feature is access to the PACE tab for ALL races, including the 'races of the day', which are set to be...

  • 2.18 Plumpton
  • 3.03 Southwell
  • 5.00 Navan
  • 5.10 Kelso

And I think the one I want to look at from those virtually picks itself. 3-runner, 17-runner and 14-runner handicaps really don't float my boat, so were off just over the border for the 5.10 Kelso, a Class 5, Conditional Jockeys' Handicap Chase over three miles on good ground...

Final Reminder won three on the spin in May/June 2018, but was then off the track for 10 months and didn't run as well in two starts after the layoff. She was then "rested" for another 18 months before embarking on a chasing campaign in December 2020, where she was 5th of 8, beaten by 36 lengths and has subsequently failed to finish her only other run. She wears first time cheekpieces here, but that's more out of desperation, I feel, although her jockey is 4 from 18 in handicaps here since 2018, albeit 0/4 over fences.

Damiens Dilemma is 13 yrs old now, so I'd guess his opportunities for winning races will be limited, but he kicked the winter off with back to back wins, including one here over 3m2.5f of a mark 3lbs higher than he is today. His form tailed off after those two wins, but a third place at Newcastle last time says he might still have at least one decent run left in him and he's down in both class and weight here.

Skyhill, on the other hand, is still relatively unexposed over fences after just eight starts in which he has made the frame four times, going on to win three of them. He has won here at Kelso over hurdles and fences and although he has yet to reach the heights of last season, he is now down to his last winning mark, which came at a higher grade than this race and his jockey is in fine form winning 7 of 27 in the past fortnight.

Tour de Pub has failed to make the frame in goth starts over fences and was only placed once from five over hurdles and has had some lengthy margins of defeat already, but probably ran his best race to date when fourth of thirteen last time out. He was beaten by less than six lengths that day and runs off the same mark here. He'll still need to improve, though, to get involved here.

Your first 30 days for just £1

Ashjan is 2/24 over hurdles and has yet to score in eight efforts over fences. He was beaten by 16 lengths over 2m1f here earlier this month and now makes a big step up in trip. He has raced over 2m6f once before and failed to make an impression and this is another quarter mile further. I'd be inclined to look elsewhere, although his yard are 7/23 (30.4% SR) in handicap chases here at Kelso since 2018, including 5 from 11 at 2m6.5f to 3m2.5f

Hitman Fred is interesting at first glance, having made the frame in each of his last two starts, but the joy is tempered when closer analysis shows a runner-up finish in A/W bumper followed by a 30 length defeat on his chasing debut last month, so there might be more to come. He did win at PTP level in Ireland, but is 0 from 13 under Rules, making the frame just four times, two of which came from 3 bumper runs.

Emirat de Catana won a Class 5 hurdle over 3m0.5f at Perth 22 months and 13 races ago and hasn't run at all well since. He is 0 from 8 over fences, hasn't made the frame in any of them and failed to complete three times. Of the five he did finish, his best result is a defeat by 25.5 lengths and even though he's now on a feather weight and is related to several chase winners, he's not for me here.

Farlam King is another, like Hitman Fred, whose form line might be a bit misleading. He has indeed made the frame in each of his last two starts over fences, but was beaten by 41 & 19 lengths in those two contests and has been off the track for almost 15 weeks. Overall he has no wins from 20, has placed just five times and runs from 5lbs out of the handicap. I don't see him being 1/21 after this one.

*

In all fairness, this is a poor race for poor horses and as you'd expect with runners who just don't win often enough, if at all, Instant Expert won't tell us too much about relevant chase form...

...although we've two that stand out there. It might give us a better idea to consider place form in the hope of maybe uncovering a decent priced E/W bet?

Well, the same two are still most prominent, but Hitman Fred has at least been involved at Class/trip. And I think that those three are the ones I'm going to end up with here, based on the above and also from my summaries of the runners.

According to the pace stats from similar past races, upfront or close the action is where you want to be...

...but the actual pace map of the contest suggests no natural leader...

,..yet it still gives us an indication of how they might break/run. And we can then look at their last four races to see if any of them might actually step forward and take it on...

...and this would suggest that Damiens Dilemma is indeed quite likely to lead them out as he has raced up with the pace in three of his last four runs and the one where he didn't was a Class 3 contest, where he was quite probably out of his depth. I'm also pretty confident in our pace map prediction that Hitman Fred, Farlam King and Skyhill will be up there too.

Summary

As I said earlier, this is an awful race and it might boil down to which horses I dislike the least! I said after Instant Expert that Damiens Dilemma, Hitman Fred & Skyhill were looking like my three against the field and the pace summary has strengthened that opinion.

Of the three, I like Damiens Dilemma the most and he's currently available at 4/1. I don't have much separating the other two, aside from a marginal preference for Skyline, who trades at an attractive 7/1 right now, but this isn't a race to be digging too deep for stake money!

 

 

Racing Insights, March 20th, 2021

Last "Insights" or Worrall's Witterings for the week and to assist everyone, open access is granted to the Trainer /Jockey Combo report as well as the full lowdown on the following handful of races...

  • 3.00 Uttoxeter
  • 3.10 Newcastle
  • 3.20 Fontwell
  • 4.55 Newcastle
  • 5.15 Uttoxeter

The first of those races looks an interestingly open affair, so today's focus in the 3.00 Uttoxeter, a Class 3 handicap hurdle over 2m4f on soft ground. 10 runners compete for a top prize of just over £17k and they line up as follows...

Wilde About Oscar has finished 11P1 in four starts over hurdles so far and won a Listed race over 2m1f last time out, clear by over 7 lengths despite stumbling at the last. A run like that would suggest he's the one to beat here, but hasn't been done any favours at all by being handed a mark of 146 for his handicap debut and he might struggle to concede weight all round. That said, his trainer and jockey both have great individual and combined records here at Uttoxeter.

Rockadenn ran out when leading at Musselburgh last month on his yard debut for Paul Nicholls, but made amends by winning a Class 2 heavy ground hurdle over 2m1f at Taunton 25 days ago. Prior to moving to the Nicholls yard, he had been a very useful chaser in France with a 3 from 3 record, all over 2m2.5f/2m3f on very soft or heavy ground, so he shouldn't be found lacking in the stamina department here.

Mint Condition came in to form around this time last year when a runner-up, beaten by just a length and a quarter at Carlisle before finishes of 11412 with the last of those runs being his best so far, beaten by just a neck in a Grade 2 over 2m4.5f at Warwick in mid-January. He did, however, struggle last time out in another Grade 2, but that was over 3m1.5f and he now drops back in both class and trip.

Gustavian has never been out of the first two home in eight starts so far, winning three times from six over hurdles, including his last two outings. He now seeks a hat-trick after winning over 2m2f at Class 4 and 2m4f at Class 3, both on heavy ground. He's up in both class and weight, but won very comfortably last time out suggesting he still has more to give.

Winningseverything was a useful bumper horse, who is 2 from 2 over hurdles, albeit both at Class 4. Hasn't seen a hurdle competitively since the second win in early December 2019, but did have a crack at chasing back in October although his jumping let him down that day. He's likely to need the run and a two-class rise might be problematic.

Your first 30 days for just £1

Nickolson won on both his bumper and his hurdling debuts but has only raced four more times since then over the last 17 months and his hurdling form has got progressively worse due to a series of jumping errors. Was switched back to a bumper last time out to let him run without having to worry about the obstacles, but he could only finish 8th of 10.

Relentless Dreamer is now 12 yrs old and reverts back to hurdles for the first time since being beaten by 69 lengths at Punchestown in April 2015! He has won 5 of 28 over fences since then, but has only raced once in the last 16 months and at his age, long lay-offs aren't usually beneficial.

Illegal Model is a very lightly raced 7 yr old who won a 2m7f, heavy ground, Class 4 novice hurdle on debut in January 2020. He was then off track for just over nine months before a solid if unspectacular trio of handicap runs at this grade, beaten by 2.25, 6.75 and 5.75 lengths respectively. He's down in trip by 3.5f today, so might get a bit closer here.

Thibault is 4 from 19 across A/W racing, bumpers, hurdles and chases, but with three wins and three further places from ten over these smaller obstacles, it's fair to say hurdling should be his focus. He won back to back Class 4 contests at Plumpton and Hereford back in December, but unseated his rider before the last at Taunton. He kicked off february by winning a bumper and then ran really well in defeat in a big-field Class 2 event at Ascot last time out, finishing 2nd of 15 just 2.25 lengths behind another from Team Skelton. Unfortunately he's up another 4lb for that run, making this tough for him.

Dan McGrue is the last of the ten runners and I wouldn't be surprised if that's where he finishes. He stayed on gamely to win a Class 3, 2m4.5f handicap at Plumpton in early November 2019, holding off Acey Milan by three quarters of a length, but has been largely disappointing in six starts since including some heavy defeats of 84L, 117L, 30L, 19L, 13L and 37L last time out and now he's up in class here. I can't see him being involved at all, I'm afraid.

*

All ten runners have won at least once in the past and collectively they are 31 from 116 (26.72% SR), which is a decent return, but I'm only really interested in how they've fared under similar conditions to today over hurdles and for this, we have our trusted Instant Expert...

...which has a decent smattering of green for us to consider and only Illegal Model looks out of place there, but we should remember that many of these horses haven't performed as well recently as they have in the past and 12-month form is as follows...

...where the ones with multiple greens might be the ones to have in mind in a race where previously front runners have struggled with 18 such runners failing to win any of 14 races. Horses running in mid-division have fared best followed by hold up horses...

...so the question is how will these ten approach the contest. We obviously don't know the answer to that, so we make an educated guess using past performance, which tells us that on average they run like this...

There's no obvious front runner here, but clearly at least one of them will have to set the pace and based on averages, Winningseverything looks likeliest, although Thibault did lead when winning a bumper two starts ago. I think the first three on that graphic will attempt to make the race, which will probably be their undoing, whilst none of the other seven look too disadvantaged by running style.

Summary

Plenty here with chances, it looks a decent / open contest and you could make a case for most for them, but based on what I wrote about each of them and also their recent form, I think I want to be with the four who looked best on Instant Expert's 12-month view.

That's means that alphabetically I'm with Gustavian, Mint Condition, Rockadenn and Wilde About Oscar. The latter will be very popular amongst those who only look at the numbers and will be pleased to see (a bit harsh?) 1411P1, but being asked to carry a mark of 146 on handicap debut is a big ask and I fear that the weight and his running style will be against him here, so he's the first discard of the four.

Of the three that remain, you could argue that Gustavian's consistent top-2 finishing is even better form and he looks a progressive type and I think he's the one I'd one to be on here with Rockadenn my marginal preference for silver over Mint Condition.

So, I've got them as Gustavian / Rockadenn / Mint Condition / Wilde About Oscar. Do you agree? The market has the same four, but Gustavian is only third fav at 6/1 behind Wilde About Oscar (who I said would be popular) and Rockadenn.

6/1 seems more than fair about Gustavian, so that's where I'd want to be for this one.

 

Racing Insights, 19th March 2021

The summary from my preview for Thursday's race said..."11/2 looks generous about Westend Theatre, so that'll be a nice win if he gets up for us, whilst 8/1 also seems big about Cash Again for those of you looking for an E/W flutter..." Westend Theatre did indeed go off shorter, but could only manage fourth at 10/3, but was beaten by less than three lengths, whilst Cash Again went on to win, so well done to those who took the 8/1 E/W last night about an eventual 9/2 winner.

The Horses for Courses report highlights horses who've previously ran well at a given track and it also happens to be our Friday free feature, open to all readers : Gold members or otherwise. We also make a small number of full racecards available each day without charge and for Friday, they are...

  • 2.30 Cheltenham
  • 2.55 Fakenham
  • 4.05 Fakenham
  • 5.05 Dundalk

Call me a coward, but the potato race (Albert Bartlett) looks tough to call and I don't fancy the Dundalk one at all. Both Fakenham races look less than foregone conclusions, so they interested me for a while, but as it's Horses for Courses day and I noticed I only had two qualifiers, let's look at them instead.

Both run at Southwell and boasting a combined 12 wins and 13 further places from 45 handicap outings on this track, they must be worth a second glance, if nothing else.

We start with Bond Angel, a 6 yr old mare who has run 15 of her last 18 races here at Southwell and has finished 231 in her last three, culminating in a course and distance success last time out when dropping down in trip. She's up in class and weight here, but looked to have something in hand when winning here ten days ago.

She runs off 69 here, which is a career high, but she did win here over a mile off 68 in the past, so this mark could still be within her grasp. Her A/W career stats are generally pretty good...

...and of her 8 wins and 8 further places from 26 on this track, she has...

  • 7 wins, 5 places from 18 after a rest of just 6-20 days
  • 2 wins, 5 places from 13 at Class 5
  • 7 wins, 4 places from 12 at odds shorter than 8/1
  • 3 wins, 3 places from 11 since the start of 2020
  • 3 wins, 2 places from 7 after a win LTO
  • 3 wins, 2 places from 7 over this 7f C&D
  • 2 wins, 2 places from 5 in March/April
  • but no wins and just 2 places under today's jockey.
Your first 30 days for just £1

She tends to race prominently through most of her races, rarely leading until late on, but equally rarely not being close to the action. For those of you conversant with our running style index, she's generally a solid 3, which is how roughly 60% of runners in the past 86 recent similar races have run. They win just about their fair share of races, but if she were to lead, I think she'd have a better chance, based on these stats...

She's in stall 4 which looks (blue line) a pretty good place to be...

So you'll not be surprised to see her sitting firmly "in the green" based on draw & running style...

The issue here is simply, who is going to lead? My thoughts on this shortly.

Bur first we need to move forward half an hour to look at Geography Teacher, who hasn't been in the best of form of late finishing 3449 in his last four runs (all here) since winning over course and distance a week before Christmas. In fact, all bar 2 of his last 21 A/W outings have been on this track. He was comprehensively beaten last time out four weeks ago, but he had stepped up in trip by three furlongs to 1m3f for the first time. Prior to that, he was only beaten by less than a length and a half off today's mark over course and distance and he's only two pounds higher than that last win, so this wouldn't be beyond the realms of possibility, but he does need to step up.

He's drawn widest of the 9 runners here, which might hinder him (the draw stats will help shortly!), but in Clifford Lee he has a jockey with a 20.8% strike rate (26/125) here at Southwell since 2017. Impressive stat there and here's are the horse's own stats on the A/W, mainly here at Southwell...

Some good, solid if unspectacular numbers there and we already know that he has 5 wins and 5 places from 20 starts here at Southwell with the 50% place ratio particularly interesting considering recent form and from those 20 course outings, there are...

  • all 20 at Class 6
  • 3 wins, 4 places from 12 over course and distance
  • 4 wins, 2 places from 11 at odds shorter than 7/1
  • just one win and one place from 8 after 3 weeks or more off track
  • one win, 3 places from 5 under Clifford Lee
  • just one placed finish from four efforts this year
  • no placed finishes at all from four career runs in February/March

His usual running style is actually a bit up and down. His best efforts have come when racing prominently or even leading, but I'd say that most of his running is done mid-pack. Sadly that's not an ideal place to be here at Southwell, where in 51 previous similar contests, 39 mid-division horses have failed to win a single race between them, whilst nearer to the front has proved most successful...

That said, he might find it difficult to lead from stall 9, but he'd be advised to get as far forward as he can, especially as stalls 2-4 look to be the best spots...

So, we know he's not particularly well drawn and I suspect his running style won't be the optimal way of approaching this race, so I'm not exactly expecting a positive result from the pace/draw heat map...

...which rarely fails to hit the spot and does indeed back up my fears, but also agrees that a slightly more advanced position could work wonders for him here.

Summary

So, back to back A/W handicaps at different classes/trips/field sizes with horses proven on the surface, but can they improve their records?

Well, although the above might not initially suggest it, Geography Teacher probably has the better chance of the two, but probably still won't win. I say he has the better chance, because Bond Angel's race looks pretty tough for a Class 5 affair. She's up against the likes of Khatm, who we righty opposed on Wednesday, but having ran well for most of that defeat, he looks very dangerous here down in trip of the same mark and would be the one to beat, if taking his place.

Aside from Khatm who might not appear, Bond Angel then has a good chance of making the frame, but will have to be at her best to repel Motawaafeq and Equidae, as there's not really that much between the three. At 15/2 (Hills), the latter is the longest of three and might be the best value E/W play here.

As for Geography Teacher, he does have place credentials, partly because his race looks a bit softer and also because there are still three places. He's not an obvious winner, mind, I'd probably be looking at horses like The Retriever or Mister Freeze,  but he could well sneak third ahead of the likes of Chloellie. Again like Bond Angel in the previous race 5/1 is too skinny for me to back Geography Teacher E/W, but Chloellie might be of interest at 8's if outrunning her mark.

 

Racing Insights, 18th March 2021

We looked at two of Wednesday's races, starting with the 1.10 Wincanton, where I said..."Horses like him (Llancillo Lord) have a habit of finding one or two that little bit better than him and I fear that's the case here. I prefer Mackie Dee for this one and I think Lord Sparky should be involved. Llancillo Lord should be there or thereabouts..." As it was, the Lord found three too good for him, but Lord Sparky (5/1) beat Mackie Dee (4/1) to give me (and some of you, hopefully) a nice 26/1 Exacta, much needed after a bit of a lean run.

As for race two at Lingfield, I said..."Khatm will be the one to beat after recent impressive form, but I'd be wary of lumping on at 5/4 after another 10lb weight rise. Convertible and Classical Wave might well give him a very good run here..." and I'm glad I didn't get on Khatm, as Classical Wave swept past him late on to win quite cosily by a length.

Thursday's 'feature' is free access to Instant Expert to all users for all races, including our selected 'races of the day', which are...

  • 2.45 Doncaster
  • 3.05 Cheltenham
  • 3.30 Hexham
  • 5.25 Chelmsford

And it's the heavy ground chase up in the North East that caught my eye aka the 3.30 Hexham, a Class 5 contest over 2.5 miles. Here's the full list of runners...

...but I'm going to be brutally honest here, six of these don't interest me at all, so I'll skip to the chase, so to speak and show you which four I think will provide the winner and placers...

I don't think the omitted half dozen bring enough form to the table to challenge any of my selected quartet, so I'm going to focus on where I think the money will be. I could have it hopelessly wrong of course!

Your first 30 days for just £1

Cash Again heads the list and carries top weight and kicked off this winter campaign with a narrow 0.5L defeat here at Hexham over 2m on soft ground back in October and then he finally got off the mark over hurdles at the 8th attempt last time out at Sedgefield on soft ground over a trip half a furlong shorter than today. He's up 4lbs for the win, which is probably fair, but is still 4lbs lower than his sole chase win to date and when he consider a 7lb claimer si booked to ride, he's very well weighted here.

Arqalina is sure to be popular after making the frame in three of her last four starts. She was admittedly well beaten at the start of this recent run of form when 3rd of 10 at Ffos Las, some 30 lengths off the winner, but won by 5.5 lengths over 2m5f (soft) at Hereford two starts ago and was then a runner-up last time out after being raised 8lbs. She was 7.5 lengths adrift that day after possibly doing too much early on and getting caught. She goes off the same mark here and friend of Geegeez, Rex Dingle, rides her for the first time.

Krujers Girl is probably the weakest of the four if only because the race she won last time out wasn't very good but has landed her with an 8lb penalty. That said, you can only beat what's in front of you and she put nine rivals to the sword over 2m5.5f on soft ground. That was at Fakenham just after New Year and she was five lengths clear of runner-up Leave My Alone, who needed a longer trip as proved by a 58 length success over 3m1f on heavy ground next time out. In Krujers Girl's defence, this will be only her fourth start over fences, so she might well have more to offer.

Westend Theatre isn't getting any younger at 12 yrs of age, but defied time by finishing a neck clear last time out, despite running from 6lbs out of the handicap. He stays much further than and doesn't mind a bit of a battle in the mud. He's not been overworked in the latter stages of his career either, having raced just seven times in the last sixteen months, making the frame six times including two wins, one here by nine  lengths over 3m0.5f on heavy ground. Could very well still have something left in the tank.

Let's look at race suitability via 'feature of the day' Instant Expert, by place results...

Westend Theatre's 50% place ration on heavy ground is very interesting and his line of amber for the other parameters makes good reading too. he's a pound higher than last time and it looks like conditions should suit. Arqalina's 5 places from 8 in this grade is excellent and she fares well over this trip too.

As for actually winning races...

...these horses are running at Class 5 for a reason! They just don't win often enough.

Westend Theatre is the only heavy ground winner and has won at this track before. Arqalina has failed to convert her two place finishes at this trip into wins, but has won a couple of Class 5 contests. Cash Again mark of 102 is highlighted there, as a reminder that his sole previous chase win was off 106.

In similar past races, the nearer to the head of affairs you could place yourself, the better your chances of winning have been, as shown below with 9 of 43 (20.9%) leaders/prominent runners winning, as opposed to just 2 of 40 (5%) winning from further back.

And here's how this quarter have run in their past four outings...

Arqalina is a confirmed front runner, but often does too much too soon and has a tendency to run quite wide around the turns. Neither of those traits lend themselves to success on heavy ground, but she's a tough mare. Westend Theatre is likely to push her early doors too, whilst the other two look like they'll be well off the pace, which might not be optimal here.

Summary

Based on all of the above, I can see it being close, but it's Westend Theatre to beat Arqalina for me and I'd expect Cash Again to be ahead of Krujers Girl. The market disagrees with me as of 5.05pm as they have my 1-2-3-4 at odds of 11/2, 11/4. 8/1 and 11/4.

11/2 looks generous about Westend Theatre, so that'll be a nice win if he gets up for us, whilst 8/1 also seems big about Cash Again for those of you looking for an E/W flutter.

 

 

Racing Insights, 17th March 2021

Wednesday's free feature is the excellent Trainer Stats report, whilst or free races for the day are as follows...

  • 1.00 Down Royal
  • 1.55 Cheltenham
  • 3.20 Down Royal
  • 4.00 Huntingdon
  • 6.20 Kempton

And I think I'll take a look at the report today with examples from either ends of the time line, starting with 30-day handicap form, where my parameters give me just one runner...

Now 11 yrs old, Llancillo Lord is in the veteran stage of his career, but has been running pretty well despite not having won a race since November 2016. Finishes of 432355 show that he still has some ability and as his handicap mark decreases, now might be the best time for him.

He was fairly one-paced in a nine length defeat last time over a similar trip on soft ground, but in the old boy's defence it was his sixth run of 2m4f or further in just over 15 weeks and was at a higher grade than today and his effective mark of 93 from LTO (100 minus a 7lb claim) is now a mrk of 88 (98 less 10lbs), so he's 5lbs better off and has had nearly 12 weeks rest.

Stat-wise, he's not exactly ripping trees up over fences after winning just once in fourteen attempts and has failed to make the frame on anything softer than good to soft ground. The trip won't be an issue for him, as he has been placed at 2m1f, but stays 2m6.5f. He's made the frame in two of the three occasions Ned Fox has ridden him and his best work has been at this lowly Class 5 grade. He wears a hood and tongue tie today and has made the frame in 5 of 12 with the tongue tie including 4 of 10 with the hood.

Your first 30 days for just £1

Results of similar contests here at Huntingdon in the past have said that the further forward you race, the more likely you are to win...

...but the Lord usually races in mid-division (3 of his last four have been mid-div) and you have to be wary of a one-paced older horse getting too far off the pace to make a challenge

*

The next snippet from the report is 5-year course form, which also gives me just one to consider...

Noble Peace might well have been fourth of five last time out, but was only a length and three quarters off the pace and now not only drops down in class, but steps up in trip to a more favoured distance. This 8yr old son of Kyllachy has proved to be far better on the A/W than he was on the Flat and was a winner here over C&D just two starts ago.

The above A/W handicap figures probably don't do him full justice, but they're not that bad to start from. He's actually 5 from 18 here (4/17 in hcps) and three from eight over course and distance, including 3 from 6 for trainer Simon Pearce. He's drawn in stall 4 and stalls 4 to 7 are probably the "worst places" to be in this type of race, but only marginally so. The higher draws look the best place to be, but as the stats below show, there's no really bad draw bias...

The draw, therefore, shouldn't have a massive effect on things here, so it'll mainly be down to race positioning and our heat map suggests that Noble peace will need to lead or be held up to have a realistic chance from a middle draw...

...and the pace stats tell us that the further forward you are, the better off you'll be again. So many horses try to win from the back around that last bend here at Lingfield and fail.

And if we then superimpose the recent running style of our runners onto that pace/draw heatmap, we get...

...which isn't far away from being as good as Noble Peace could hope for. He doesn't tend to lead, but never allows himself to be too far away from the front of the pack and not many of his rivals here have a better pace/draw make-up.

Summary

Llancillo Lord is now down on a very workable mark and I think he has a great chance of making the frame here. He doesn't win often enough, but does get into places quite regularly. Horses like him have a habit of finding one or two that little bit better than him and I fear that's the case here. I prefer Mackie Dee for this one and I think Lord Sparky should be involved. Llancillo Lord should be there or thereabouts, but the question you'll need to ask yourself is whether 7/1 is enough reward for an E/W bet. I don't really like going that short for an E/W punt, but I did expect to be calling this a definite no bet, as I expected him to be around 9/2 or 5/1 in the opening show.

As for Noble Peace, only seven run there now after Yuften's withdrawal and I don't fancy his chances of making the frame. Khatm will be the one to beat after recent impressive form, but I'd be wary of lumping on at 5/4 after another 10lb weight rise. Convertible and Classical Wave might well give him a very good run here. Either way, I've got those three and possibly a couple of others in front of Noble Peace, so he's not for me here.

 

Racing Insights, 15th March 2021

A new week awaits us and there's apparently some big NH meeting on later in the week 😉 , but we've Monday to navigate first and to help you, we offer the Pace tab to all readers for all the day's races and our free-to-all full racecards are for...

  • 1.55 Punchestown
  • 2.03 Stratford
  • 2.10 Taunton
  • 2.17 Plumpton

And these are a PTP flat race, a class 3 handicap chase, a class 4 maiden hurdle and a class 5 novice chase. The second of the four is the best of the bunch, so we're off to Shakespeare country for the 2.03 Stratford, an 8-runner (hope it stays at 8 for all you E/W bettors), Class 3 handicap chase over 2m7.5f (after rail movements) on good to soft ground, that will be soft in places and these are the runners contesting the £7,018 top prize...

Commodore Barry : Yard is in good health with 10 wins from 35 over the last month and 8 from 28 here over the last five years. Jockey also going well (4/14 last 14 days, 10/39 last 30 days and 61/295 over the last year), he is also 5 from 21 at this venue over the last year and 10 from 60 in the last five. And together the partnership is 10 from 25 over the last month, 4 from 10 here over the last year and 7 from 21 over the last five!

Sadly, the horse has been out of touch for some while with just one win by a head being the highlight of the last 15 months in a run of form reading R4106P. He hasn't raced since being pulled up at Newbury 11 weeks ago and is best watched here.

Orrisdale : yet to win any of four starts over fences, but has made the frame on both handicap chases to date. He made the frame three times in give bumper/hurdle runs, winning twice and the ground should be no worry here, nor should the trip after finishing third over 3m0.5f on heavy ground last time out off this mark.

AccordingtoGino : very consistent over hurdles with a run of form reading 25332331, but was well beaten (42L, 6th of 8) on chase debut returning from an 8 month break, but did win next time up by 10 lengths over 3m2f at Warwick. He wasn't as good next/last time out when pulled up at Bangor over 3m (heavy) when he seemed to run out of steam.

He's had a three month break to recover and his team are in great form. Yard are 9/56 over the past fortnight and 25/121 over the last month, the jockey is 24/96 over the month and they're 104/468 together over the last year.

Your first 30 days for just £1

Kapgarry : just a pound higher than when making all to win this race last year, but Sam Twiston-Davies' place in the saddle is taken by a 3lb claimer and the horse has only had two starts since that win, running disappointingly both times. He was pulled up at Ascot in December on his first start in over nine months before going down by almost 25 lengths at Hereford three weeks later. He's more than capable of landing this, but recent form wouldn't suggest he's about to, although to be fair to the jockey, he is riding well after 6 wins from 28 over the last four weeks including 4 from 14 in the past fortnight.

Subcontinent : a winner on the A/W, the Flat, over hurdles and in chases, this versatile 9 yr old veteran of 35 races won by five lengths when last seen at Ludlow (C3, 3m, Heavy) almost three weeks ago. He's up 7lbs for that win, so more will be needed here but the ground should be less arduous in this contest. Yard in fine fettle right now, though, with 7 wins from 20 in the last fortnight, whilst jockey Charlie Deutsch is 6 from 19 in the same period, including 6 from 14 for the yard.

Joueur Bresilien :  just one win from eleven over fences and that came four starts ago back in mid-October 2019 off 4lbs lower than here. He won by 12 lengths that day over 2m5f on soft ground at Ffos Las, but hasn't been seen on a racetrack in over fourteen months, so could quite well need a run. That said, this is a much inferior contest to his last race, a Grade 3 soft-ground chase over 3m5f at Warwick, where he was beaten by some 41 lengths. he's not one I'd be too keen on.

Mcnamaras Band : started racing life with a bumper win at Worcester in June 2017 and wasn't seen again for almost 18 months when falling on his hurdling debut at Chepstow. Two further/better runs followed at Chepstow (3rd, then 1st), before another 7 months layoff. He was then 10th of 11 (bt by 58L) over hurdles at Uttoxeter, had another year off and then a chase debut also at Uttoxeter (13th of 18, bt by 33L) and since then, just the one outing where he was pulled up at Exeter three months ago. Trainer Philip Hobbs is 16 from 56 in handicap chases here since 2013, but I don't see this being winner 17.

Ramonex : bottom weight, but up in class as he battles to return to he kind of form he had when finishing 120P2F1 over fences from 2018-20. Now rated a pound lower than his last win, the step up in trip might help him here as he did most of his best work late on last time out. He was, admittedly, beaten by 10 lengths over 2m3f on soft ground, but kept on late in the piece to pass several rivals on his way to fourth place.

*

As for past career records...

Commodore Barry shows best here, I'd say, but that needs to be tempered by his lack of recent form and the same could be applied to Kapgarry, Mcnamaras Band and Ramonex, so we might get a better picture, if we just considered more recent form...

From a pace perspective, horses that have raced prominently or in mid-division have fared best...

Where IV is a good indicator of success. 1 is par and the higher you go, the more successful you are. So Prominent runners at 1.53 suggests they win far more often than you'd expect. The mid-division tally isn't reliable off such a small sample size and held up  horses have struggled, so let's assess how we think these horses will run here...

I'd probably only discount the bottom two on pace alone, but I'm also discarding them on form and the lack of regular action. Kapgarry's form is also a concern, so he's not for me either and you might be surprised to see me ignoring AccordingtoGino so early too. Yard and jockey are in great form, but the horse hasn't been the most reliable over fences and might need the run after a three month break.

So, I'm down to four now, Commodore Barry, Orrisdale, Ramonex and Subcontinent for my final consideration.

Summary

Plus and minus points for all four remaining, but of that group, I think I like Subcontinent best. He has been running consistently well in his last few runs and won well last time out. there is the 7lb rise to contend with, but the ground will be less demanding here and 4/1 looks a tad generous.

It might not fit the narrative of the data, but I also liked Orrisdale almost as much as Subcontinent and at 10/3, he's probably just about the right price as my second choice.

Trifecta punters wanting me to pick between the remaining two will see that they are both fairly long in the market and might both be worth an E/W punt, but the 10/1 Commodore Barry holds slightly more appeal to me than the 12/1 Ramonex for the trifecta, although I did think their odds might be the other way around.

So, that's where I'm at for this, but don't be shocked if the Skeltons work their magic and AccordingtoGino romps home : that would sum up my form right now!

Racing Insights, 13th March 2021

Last one of the week and Saturday's feature of the day is the excellent Trainer/Jockey combo report, whilst our free races are..

  • 1.57 Ayr
  • 2.25 Sandown
  • 2.32 Ayr
  • 4.02 Hereford
  • 6.20 Chelmsford
  • 6.50 Chelmsford

And the one that caught my eye was the Hereford race, because I'm expecting a fairly short priced favourite who might be shorter than he deserves and the race features three from the same yard, no mean feat in a 7-runner contest. It's a Class 3 handicap chase over two miles on Good to Soft (soft in places) ground. trainer Dan Skelton saddles up three of the seven runners aiming for the £6,756 top prize in the 4.02 Hereford...

Solomon Grey was a winner last time out when landing a Class 2, chase at Uttoxeter over 2m4f. He was seven lengths clear at the finish and although up 7lbs to a mark of 140, he has won off this mark in the past. He's likely to be a warm favourite here, but I'm not convinced he won't need the run after 203 days off the track. The last time he had a layoff, he was beaten by 54 lengths after a 167 day absence.

Hatcher is the second of the Skelton trio and was a winner of a Class 2 handicap four starts ago. That was over 2m0.5f at Southwell back in July and he followed that up with respectable runs in defeat at Cheltenham and Newbury in better races over similar trips. He's not been seen, however, since being pulled up at Ludlow almost three months ago, although he does drop in class here.

Pingshou also drops down from Class 2, as he attempts to recapture some of his novice chasing form, where he had a run reading 122 in mid-2019. Sadly he then fell twice in a row, finished last of five before looking a bit better last time out when beaten by 9 lengths over 2m7.5f. The trip might be too sharp for him here.

Hollywoodien won this race a year ago off just 3lbs lower than today, but has only raced twice since. He was off the track for ten months following that win here and returned to run well in third at Sandown at Class 2. He didn't do as well next/last time out though, when beaten by 18 lengths at Wetherby last month and he looked like he'd given up late on.

Your first 30 days for just £1

Financier is a lightly raced 8 yr old making just a tent career start after 3 bumpers and 6 chase outings. His sole success came in a beginners chase at Ludlow in February 2020 and aside from one near-miss at Chepstow, hasn't impressed since with his jumping letting him down on his last two starts.

Marracudja is the third of the Skelton horses, the lowest rated of the three, but with bridget Andrews in the saddle will appear to some to be the yard's number 1 pick, even though the favourite is his stablemate! He was third last time out, beaten by little more than three lengths and is now back to his last winning mark.

Gortroe Joe is unlikely to run here, having raced at Leicester on Friday afternoon, finishing third of five over 2m4f on heavy ground. If he does run here, he'll be receiving weight (at least 8lbs) all round, but would still be rated some 5lbs higher than his last chase win and 13lbs higher than his last hurdles success from November. Prior to running at Leicester on Friday, he hadn't seen a fence competitively since July 2019 and twice in two days would be a bit much.

And to relevant career stats...

Pingshou is the obvious one to avoid from the above, but plenty of green and amber on display elsewhere. Hollywoodien sets the standard on going, there are plenty of past Class winners and Hatcher is well proven at the trip. This has all the makings of a trappy little contest that might end up being a tactical affair.

In eleven previous 6/7 runner contests at the trip/going, prominent runners have won 7 (63.6%) of them from just 32.4% or the runners which is almost double what you might expect. Leaders have won 1.5 times more often than expected with mid-division roughly on par with average. You don't want to be held up here, though!

Yet, in their last four runs, this bunch have run like this...

And true to the above, Gortroe Joe led for much of today's race at Leicester, before being overhauled 4 out over a longer trip on heavy ground. Marracudja shows well here, but neither Solomon Grey nor Financier look well suited.

Summary

Solomon Grey is probably the best horse here and really should be winning races like this, but if he's held up it's going to be tough for him and he might well need the run after 203 days off. With that in mind, I can't back him at 7/4.

I did like Gortroe Joe as an E/W possible based on weight, Instant Expert and race pace, but I don't see him lining up here, which is unfortunate as he's currently 11/1.

I don't like Pingshou (trip & Instant Expert) or Financier (jumping & pace), so I've three to look at for a potential bet and to be honest, I've little separating Marracudja, Hollywoodien and Hatcher, but I'd probably just about have them in that order.

I'm inclined to take the 11/4 about Marracudja and back Gortroe Joe as an E/W bet. Solomon Grey should be in the first three a worst and if Gortroe Joe doesn't run, then Hollywoodien for the trifecta or E/W bet.

 

Racing Insights, 12th March 2021

Friday's free feature is the Horses For Courses report, highlighting runners with previous good form at the tracks they'll run at next, whilst our free races of the day are as follows...

  • 2.55 Leicester
  • 4.15 Sandown
  • 4.40 Wolverhampton
  • 4.55 Dundalk
  • 6.00 Dundalk

And I think that in place of a full race preview, I'll look at my Horses For Courses report to see whether my qualifiers might manage to improve their already impressive track records, so we'll start with my list of qualifiers...

Goring has 6 wins and 4 further places  from 16 races at Lingfield and now runs over 7f in a 9-runner, Class 3 A/W handicap off a mark of 94. Georgia Dobie (claiming 5lbs) will be in the saddle 13 days after the horse was last home of four beaten by 11.5 lengths over a mile at here at Class 2 last time out.

He also carries top weight here despite a 4lb drop in his mark from last time and with today's contest in mind, his 6 wins and 4 places from 16 here include a win and a place from two starts over course and distance, with the bulk (12) of his runs here coming over a mile. He won a Class 2, 1m handicap here on 22nd Feb last year, but has toiled in his four races since including failing to finish three starts ago and not beating a single rival in each of his last two outings. Down in class and on a more workable mark, you'd hope for a better performance today.

His career stats include...

...backing up the horses for courses report and showing the fact that he's 4lbs lighter than his last win. He's drawn in stall 7 of 9 and whilst he has been known to lead in the past, he invariably races in mid-division. Over this course and distance in a 9-runner field, he'd be better off reverting to a more prominent racing style as highlighted by our pace/draw heat map below.

Your first 30 days for just £1

*

And now to Dundalk for two runners, the first of which, Alfredo Arcano, has 6 wins and 6 places from 17 runs on the Dundalk track, where he does most of his running nowadays. This is a 9-runner, 5 furlong affair worth just over £8,000 and he goes off a mark of 89, down 2lbs from his last run when fifth of nine, beaten by 3.25 lengths here over 6 furlongs three weeks ago.

Third in the weights and drawn in stall one, he drops down in trip to the bare minimum after tackling 6f in each of his last five starts. Prior to finishing fifth last time out, he had made the frame in three races on the bounce, but hasn't actually won a race in his last nine spread over nearly 15 months. He won here over 6f off a mark of 98 and he now runs off his lowest A/W mark since winning here back in November 2018. He's weighted to win here, but whether he still has the ability is unclear. Stat-wise, his record includes...

Those are really good numbers and show that he's now some 9lbs lower than that last, even if it was quite a while ago now. We already know that he's been drawn in stall one and his recent runs have seen him want to be up with the pace. Upfront is where you want to be at Dundalk, so the pace/draw heatmap should make for good reading for his followers...

Good but not great, I'd say. Pulse of Shanghai will, in my opinion, attempt to get across him from stall, in a bid to get to the rail and that might not pan out well for Alfredo, whilst Big Gossey will also look to press early from the widest draw, but that shouldn't impact the two ahead of him. That pace make-up could be good for Alfredo's place chances, though.

*

Our final runner goes a little later in a 6-runner handicap over a mile and a half. Like the previous race, the top prize is a little over £8k and the 7 yr old Jon Ess will seek to defy the effects of a six-month layoff to win here.

His form was largely decent last year, finishing 112 here before running last of 17 in a Premier Handicap on turf at Gowran Park. He then finished second and first over hurdles before ending his campaign in mid-September in 10th of 18 runners at Leopardstown. In his defence, that was a £66k Premier handicap and he was only beaten by 3.5 lengths over 1m5f.

His last win on the A/W was on Valentine's Day 2020 off a mark of 83, so he's half a stone heavier here (as you'll see on IE below), although he was only beaten by a neck off a mark of 92 next time out over course and distance, so 90 could still be a winnable mark for him. His A/W form includes...

As you can see, he has done most of A/W running at other distances, but has a win and a place from three starts over C&D, whilst he has four wins and two places from seven here under today's jockey. He's a confirmed front runner, drawn in stall 2 and the previous race is anything to go by, that could work well for him, let's see the heat map...

It looks like he could be allowed a soft early lead, so much will be down to race management, as his jockey will have to judge the race from the front. Create a big gap and you might not get caught, but you might expend too much energy trying to open the gap, it's a tough call.

Summary

We started with Goring up at Lingfield, he has been out of form of late and prefers racing over a mile rather than this 7f, which is often too sharp for him. I don't see him being involved in the shake-up for this one, he's likely to be be nearer the back than the front, but the one that did interest me was the 9/1 chance Mohareb.

Next up was Alfredo Arcano over 5f at Dundalk, he's got the hood and tongue tie back on to help here and has bagged a plum draw, but recent form hasn't been as good as connections would have liked. He's going to need to make a good start and try to hold on and I'm not convinced he will. Like Goring above, he usually races over further and might find this too sharp with some of the speedsters in opposition here. I'm not saying he can't or won't win this, but I'd not want to risk money on him with the likes of Ecclesiastical and Big Gossey around.

Which leads us to our last runner, Jon Ess, a well-drawn front runner who might be afforded a soft lead. That's likely to be his best chance of success, I feel, as there are better horses here than he has opposed of late. The likes of Grandmaster Flash, The Mouse Doctor and Pure Nature all appeal to me more here and in a 6-horse race, that's not great for Jon Ess.

So, a bit of a damp squib for our three featured runners, but I've one of definite interest at Lingfield and when I see the markets for Dundalk, there might be an opportunity or two there too.

Racing Insights, 11th March 2021

On Thursdays we make the excellent Instant Expert feature available free of charge to all readers to help them read the races, including our full free races of the day which are...

  • 3.15 Carlisle
  • 5.45 Thurles
  • 6.30 Newcastle
  • 7.00 Newcastle

Nothing really caught my eye when I did quick run through the Best of RAR report that generates Instant Expert for us, so it's to the free races we go and the first of the two A/W contests probably lends itself best to what we're trying to do here, so we're off to the 6.30 Newcastle, a 7-runner, Class 5 Tapeta handicap for 4yo+. They'll race over the bare 5 furlongs aiming to collect the £3,429 top prize and they line up as follows...

Top weight Ballyare looks the pick on recent form and ranks second on our ratings, whilst Another Angel has also been running well. Three of the seven are course and distance winners, three others have also won at this trip, the exception being Thrilla In Manila, who ranks third on our ratings, carries bottom weight and makes a yard debut for Paul Midgley, who actually trains three of these seven runners.

Ballyare is 2 from 13 on the A/W with both wins coming from 11 starts over this trip and he has a win and a place from 5 efforts over course and distance. A runner-up LTO beaten by just under two lengths at this trip/class on the Tapeta at Wolverhampton, he'll be keen to go one better off an unaltered mark.

Dazzling Des was a decent second in a tight contest at Wolverhampton two starts ago, but that was his only decent effort in his last half a dozen outings and he has only been eased a pound here, despite finishing 7th of 8, some 9 lengths off the pace last time out, although he does drop in class today.

James Watt makes an A/W debut here after winning just 2 of his 25 Flat runs. A poor stat made worse by the fact that he started his career back in May 2018 by going two from two. 0 from 23 since, no previous A/W experience, only 2lbs lower than a weight he was last beaten at and a 143-day are more than enough to put me off here, although he is related to plenty of tapeta winners and the trainer/jockey combo are 11 from 64 over the last year.

Another Angel has made the frame in his last two starts, initially beaten by 2 lengths over 6f at Southwell and then most recently he was a runner-up over 5f at that same track. He's a pound lower today and looks better suited to this contest,as from his career record of 7 wins from 45, he is 7 from 21 over course and distance and has made the frame in 6 of the 14 defeats. He hasn't won since September 2020, but is now only a pound higher than that run.

Primo's Comet is another due a win, having been beaten is each of his last 12 start, but did make the frame in four of them. He's a five time trip winner, has two C&D victories under his belt and was only beaten by a length here over C&D last time out and he's a pound lighter today, putting him right in the mix.

Good Luck Fox is likely to need plenty of good luck here. He last won back in 2018, has lost eleven on the bounce and has ran just once since 26th October 2019. That last run was his yard debut for Paul Midgley a year and a day ago and came after a previous break of 136 days. I'd expect him to be rusty and/or outclassed here on just his second A/W outing. In his defence, though, I will add that he's 2 from 10 at the trip.

Your first 30 days for just £1

Thrilla In Manila completes the line-up, carries bottom weight, makes a yard debut for Paul (3 in the race) Midgley, returns from 162 days off the track and is ranked third on the Geegeez ratings. He's the only one of the field not to have won over this trip, where he's 0 from 6 and his sole career win came over 6.5f. He has made the frame just once in four starts on the A/W and there's nothing in his form that makes me want to back him here.

*

Tapeta and five furlongs are a specialised surface and trip and a quick overview of a horse's past performance on any given race condition can be easily seen by our unique fully customisable Instant Expert. This works on a traffic light scheme where green is better than red with amber somewhere in between. Proceed with caution might be a good traffic analogy here. So I set my drop down boxes and radio buttons to show what I want to see and this is the result...

...no green!

But that's not a massive surprise with Class 5 animals. They're at this level for a reason, either poor quality or a lack of consistency. That said, Another Angel has a line of amber, which is encouraging off decent sample sizes, whilst Primo's Angel also scores pretty well and Ballyare's two career wins are documented here.

So we've had an appraisal of individual recent form and we've looked at how suited they might be to this contest. Next we need to consider the draw and whether there's any bias here over the 5f sprint. It's a straight five, so apart from fancying the rail, would there be any bias? Let's find out, shall we...

Well, stall 6 looks the best and as we've only 7 runners, we should add 7 & 8 together, so maybe the higher drawn horses do fare best here and this is then reflected in our pace draw heat map, which tells us that if you're drawn high, you've a great chance providing you run anywhere other than just off the pace. Low drawn runners who blast out and lead also do very well here, as you can see below...

The raw data from the 19 races above show a pretty even split of winners across all running styles bar mid-division runners and low to middle draws fare particularly badly in mid-division.

Horses that lead here have proven hard to catch, making the frame 17 times from 22, going on to win 6 times. Prominent runners have won one race more, but from 34 more efforts, whilst hold-up horses have won one less than leaders from double the runners.

So, I suppose the question is, how do our runners here fit into that pace/draw heatmap above? Well, you'll not be surprised to read that we can do that too...

That, unfortunately, doesn't give us a real clear picture, as there's a distinct lack of apparent pace in the race. They obviously can't all race in mid-division or be held up, so there'll have to be a shift to the right, so to speak. Someone will have to take the race on and I suppose a rudimentary guess based on the above says that Another Angel might be the one to do so.

Thankfully, Geegeez readers don't have to guess, because we can quickly show you how all seven runners raced in their last four runs. There is, however, some obvious caveats in that styles do change, horses move yards and some haven't raced four times recently so we might be leaning on old data, but any info is better than none, so here's how they've raced previously...

The higher the number, the more prominent they have been and a complete lack of the number 4 says no natural leader here, but Another Angel has three 3's and I'd expect him to lead out, confirming my rudimentary guess above. Good Luck Fox might show early too and taking it on might be his best chance of making the frame.

Summary

Well I don't really like Dazzling Des, Good Luck Fox or Thrilla In Manila, based on form, lay-offs and A/W experience and this quickly reduces the field to four for me, which I'll aim to split into two pairs.

At the front end of affairs, I'm most interested in Ballyare and Primo's Comet, which I suppose by default leaves Another Angel and James Watt fighting for third.

Another Angel ticks far more boxes for me and he's probably not far off my favoured pairing, but I've got him as third.

And now back to my top two, Ballyare and Primo's Comet. Both are C&D winners, both running well, although Ballyare shades it on form. Primo's Comet carries almost a stone less than Ballyare after jockey claims and looked the better of the two on Instant Expert, whilst neither fared well on pace/draw.

This could be a muddling type of affair, but it's Primo's Comet for me, ahead of Ballyare

I never look at the market, until I'm done. I don't like knowing the prices before analysing a race, I find it can cloud judgment, so at first viewing (just after 5.10pm), I see Primo's Comet available at 5/1, whilst Ballyare is the 11/4 favourite. I don't see Ballyare as being almost twice as likely to win this, so I'm happy with my decision.

Your first 30 days for just £1