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.
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.
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.