Racing Insights, Friday 07/01/22

Friday is Horses for Courses (H4C) day at Geegeez, where we open up the report that shows the full course history since 2009 of any horse running that has previously had a run at the track. It is sorted by number of wins, but this can be changed to any column at the user’s discretion. As well as today’s race time, course, horse name, jockey and trainer name, there is a breakdown of runs, wins and places, and profit and loss calculations for both win and each way betting. And as with all Geegeez reports, there is a ‘Today’ and a ‘Tomorrow’ (for the next day’s racing) view.

HINT: Layers might like to look towards the lower end of the report, for those with negative performance at the track.

[Please refer to our User Guide for further information]

Here's how my H4C report looks (you can, of course, use different parameters) for this Friday...

...and to complement the H4C report, we also have our usual selection of full free racecards...

  • 1.05 Lingfield
  • 1.25 Wetherby
  • 3.45 Dundalk
  • 6.30 Wolverhampton

Cafe Sydney looks dreadfully out of form and I'm not a fan of Dundalk races, so we'll switch to the free list and take in West Yorkshire's NH meeting for the 1.25 Wetherby, an 8-runner, Class 4, 4yo+, soft ground, handicap hurdle over 3m1f (3m plus an extra 1f for rail movements). They'll go left handed and take thirteen hurdles in quest of a £4,847 payout and here's the card...

Bottom weight Blazer is 11 yrs old now, has only won 2 of 33 starts and has lost each of his last 24 races stretching back to the end of May 2017, making the frame just four times. I can't see him doing anything here, so I'm discarding him immediately. Of the rest...

FORM : Only Dequall is winless in the last five races, whilst Readysteadybeau is the only LTO winner and he now makes a handicap debut.

CLASS : Only Guilllemot is a class mover, stepping up one grade after a fall last time out

COURSE/DISTANCE : None of these have won here before. In fact only Readysteadybeau has been here before (2nd of 5 in a bumper last Feb) and his LTO win was over a smiliar trip to today's, as were both of To Be Sure's wins.

DAYS SINCE RUN : There should be no rustiness here, all have raced in the past 23 to 52 days

TRAINER POSITIVES : Foillan (course), Guillemot (form) and Dequall (form & course)

TRAINER NEGATIVES : Readysteadybeau (course)

JOCKEY POSITIVES : To Be Sure, Foillan and Guillemot (all course) & My Last Oscar (form)

JOCKEY NEGATIVES : Readysteadybeau (form) and Dequall (course)

On a very rudimentary +1 for a positive mention and -1 for an negative note, the ones "in credit" from the racecard would be Foillan, To Be Sure, Guillemot and My Last Oscar. That, of course, isn't the full story and it's based on a very quick overview of the card. We've a soft ground stayers' race here, so past form could hold the key and Instant Expert has all the details...

...where Readysteadybeau throws his name into the ring and the likes of Gibberwell and Guillemot look vulnerable, but in all honesty there aren't many wins there, so let's look at place form...

...which is a bit more reassuring that some of them might actually get involved, but we're not moving away from Readysteadybeau here, are we? The fact the field are just 4 from 47 at Class 4 means that maybe we should consider Class 5 form?

This isn't great for Dequall with a 1 in 8 record at a lower grade, so he's out of my considerations too. To Be Sure, on the other hand, has a win and a place from his two runs at Class 3, so he's clearly good enough for the job in hand, but will need to bounce back from a poor run last time out. His regular jockey is back in the saddle here, though and that should help his cause.

He has been held up in each of his last three outings and with likely short-priced favourite also being one who is made to wait, will this pair be left with too much to do in difficult conditions? The stats would appear to say not and based on the last 21 similar contests here...

...hold up horses have won 11 (52.4%) of them at a strike rate of almost 20.4%, whilst the three other running styles are 10 from 111 (9%) Prominent runners do tend to make the frame more often, but the winners do tend to come from those held up and if we look at how field have raced in their most recent outings...

...you'd be expecting To Be Sure to be towards the rear. The fav has also been held in his last two and with his first win (LTO) coming over a similar trip/going/class, I'd expect another hold up run from him. We've no real pacesetters, but I'd imagine the top half of that graphic will be the ones taking it on and I think that puts paid to their chances here with what I deem the best two horses being held up.

Summary

Readysteadybeau is the likely favourite and you can see why, but he wasn't mega impressive when winning five weeks ago, but both the other placers have reappeared and won off similar marks, whilst the fourth place horse has made the frame. This suggests he might well be treated and could indeed kick on and improve. I'm pretty sure he makes the frame, but a generally available price of 11/8 doesn't excite me and it's certainly not a price I'd want for an "improver"

So, who beats him? Well, hopefully, To Be Sure would be the one. He caught the eye on the racecard, scored well enough on Instant Expert and has the right pace profile for this race. He'll need a bounce back from a poor run last time around, but I'm not sure he got the best of rides and with his regular rider jumping back on board 5/1 about him regaining November's form might end up being generous.

That's my 1-2 and from a monetary perspective, I'd prefer the fav to get beat as it'll also boost the forecast/exacta payout. Those needing a third horse for the tricast/trifecta might want to look at the 6/1 Foillan or the 5/1 My Last Oscar. Neither are long enough for an E/W bet and if we're staying true to the process above, it would be My Last Oscar getting the nod.

 

 

Racing Insights, Thursday 06/01/22

Thursday's feature of the day is full access for all readers to the Instant Expert tab on the racecards. This is by far the most popular tab on the geegeez racecards.

The reason? It has the ability to condense the entire form profile of every runner in the race into a single, easily digestible, view. The report covers the form in terms of wins (or places), runs, and win (or place) percentage for each of going, class, course, distance, and field size. It also compares today’s official rating with the horse’s last winning official rating. The display is colour coded: green for a higher percentage rate, amber for a middling percentage, and red for a low percentage. Horses with no form under a certain condition have grey figures.

IMPORTANT NOTE: Where a horse has no UK/Irish form – i.e. it is having its first run in Britain or Ireland under Rules – it will not show up on Instant Expert at all.

And every Thursday we make this open to all readers for all races, including our free ones, which will be...

  • 12.05 Chepstow
  • 2.00 Newcastle
  • 3.50 Chepstow
  • 5.00 Chelmsford

...and with heavy ground forecast for Chepstow, let's have a look at the first of the free races because we've got a short priced favourite, some unexposed types and last year's winner who scores well on feature of the day Instant Expert.

So that's the 12.05 Chepstow, which is a 9-runner heavy ground, two-mile, Class 4, 4yo+ Mares Handicap Hurdle worth £5,664 and these are the runners who'll go left handed over seven flights...

So, from the initial preview, I said..."we've got a short priced favourite, some unexposed types and last year's winner who scores well on feature of the day Instant Expert"... and Lady Tremaine is likely to go off shorter than 2/1 and she's one of a trio of unexposed runners along with Heure de Gloire and Lettie Lutz who have just ten UK starts between them. Top weight Dame du Soir won this race last year off 2lbs higher and she has a good Instant Expert score, as you'll see shortly.

FORM : Only Dame du Soir, Heure de Gloire, Lady Tremaine and bottom weight Astra Via have a win in their recent form line, but that wouldn't necessarily be recent in time.

CLASS : We've class movers everywhere with only Lettie Lutz and Jaunty Freyja having run at Class 4 last time out. Astra Via, Lady Tremaine, Llantara & Sarceaux are all stepping up one class, Dame du Soir & Ruby Yeats are dropping down a class, whilst Heure de Gloire comes down two levels.

HANDICAP RUNS : Jaunty Freyja is on handicap debut, whilst Lady Tremaine and Lettie Lutz are having their second crack.

COURSE/DISTANCE FORM : Dame du Soir is the only true course and distance winner in the field, but Astra Via did win here over 2m½f last time out. Lady Tremaine, Ruby Yeats and Llantara have all also won at similar trips to today.

DAYS SINCE RUN : Astra Via has had just over ten weeks rest, but the other eight have all raced in the last two to four weeks, so all should be race-ready here.

TRAINER/JOCKEY POSITIVES : Not much of note, sadly, but trainers of Lady Tremaine and Ruby Yeats seem to be in good form, whilst Heure de Gloire's yard have a good record on this track, whilst I've got it in my head that Llantara's yard has done well in the mud in the past.

Feature of the day is, of course, the Instant Expert tab, so let's head straight there...

...where as I suggested, last year's winner, Dame du Soir looks very good. In fact she's certainly the standout in terms of wins with Ruby Yeats probably next best and Llantara worth a second glance and her chances are enhanced by some excellent numbers on the place stats...

Again, Dame du Soir is strong but off a small number of runs, but Llantara is the persistent placer here and could be a danger off a mark 11lbs lower than her last win, even if it was nearly three years ago. She'll get the ground and the trip and is a proven Class 4 runner, she's suddenly quite interesting! She has a pace profile of 2112 which suggests that she's generally towards the rear or held up and further digging shows that she has indeed been held up in 20 of her 27 runs, but is that a good tactic here over a short trip on heavy ground?

Sadly for Llantara and any other hold up horses, the answer is a resounding no...

...and based over those stats from the last five years, I think I only want to be interested in horses with a recent average pace score of over 2.50 and here are the scores...

...where the average score is based on the last three runs, because Lettie Lutz only has three to compare. With that 2.50 score in mind, Lettie Lutz fails on pace, as does Ruby Yeats, Astra Via and Llantara. I know Astra Via won here LTO from a hold-up position, but there was no pace in the race that day, so she didn't have a great deal of ground to make up and she only won by a short head and is now up 4lbs.

All of which leaves us with Dame du Soir, Heure de Gloire, Jaunty Freyja, Lady Tremaine and Sarceaux.

Summary

Of the five I've got it down to, last year's winner Dame du Soir and the likely fav Lady Tremaine have ticked the most boxes, but I've a narrow preference for the former. I know Lady Tremaine's yard are in good nick and that she won last time out, but she didn't win by far, she's up in class, raised 5lbs and switches from soft ground to heavy and although she's possibly the best in the race, I don't see her as a sub-2/1 runner : she's currently 2/1 with Bet365 and 13/8 with Hills and will probably end up closer to the latter.

If you're OK backing at those odds, then the 2/1 might be a value price, but the 5/1 about Dame du Soir is more appealing to me. Conditions are ideal for her here, she's down in class and reverts back to hurdling and it could be a tight call, but I'm with the Dame over the Lady.

As for a placer, I'll take 11/1 E/W about Heure de Gloire, she's down two classes here, her yard go well at this track and she's likely to be setting the fractions and could be difficult for many to catch. She ran well to be runner-up in this grade on debut and her other two UK runs have been at Listed class and Class 2, so she could fare better here.

Racing Insights, Wednesday 05/01/22

The Trainer Statistics (TS) report is Geegeez' free GOLD feature every Wednesday and it is in fact, four reports in one. It contains information on a trainer’s recent form, and their longer term course form. For each of 14 day, 30 day, course one year, and course five year, users can filter by runs, wins, places, win profit/loss and each way profit/loss. Clicking on any row in the report will reveal the runners that trainer has entered on the day in question, and clicking on the runner row will open that race in a new tab.

HINT: It can help to cross refer the profit figures of the trainer with their win/place percentage. A few big priced winners can mean a trainer has a high profit number but a low strike rate. You may need to be very patient, and a bit lucky, to come out in front this way!

[Please refer to our User Guide for further information]

In addition to a FREE daily feature, we also offer a selection of full racecards to all readers and for Wednesday, they'll be...

  • 1.10 Ffos Las
  • 1.45 Ffos Las
  • 2.35 Wolverhampton
  • 2.55 Ffos Las

My personal settings for the TS report are...

and these are quite restrictive meaning I often don't have too many qualifiers and for Wednesday, I've none at all, so I'm referring back to the 'free' races. The Wolverhampton race is a poor-looking Class 6 contest, so we're off to Trimsaran in South Wales, where the middle race of the three is the most interesting/best standard. We're talking about the 1.45 Ffos Las, an 8-runner (hope it stays that way for E/W bettors), Class 3, 4yo+ handicap hurdle over a left-handed two miles on heavy ground. The winner will need to clear just eight hurdles to land the £7,951 prize and here are the contenders...

Half of the field (Howdyalikemenow, Wicked West, Natural History & Sabbathical) have won at least one of their last five outings, but none won last time out. Applesandpierres and Sabbathical move step up two classes from Class 5 defeats LTO, whilst Higgs' last effort was at Class 4. Wicked West and Natural History, though, move the opposite direction dropping down one level with the former's run possibly the best LTO effort of this group.

Howdyalikemenow makes a second handicap start here after struggling at Cheltenham in this grade back in November, whilst Higgs returns to action for the first time since a switch of yards back to his original trainer, Sarah-Jane Davies. He hasn't raced for some 524 days, though and along with Sirop de Menthe (off for 301 days), they're the only ones here without a run in the last eight weeks. All eight runners have won over a similar trip to today, so no fears there and Wicked West won over course and distance back in May. Sirop de Menthe has also won here at Ffos Las, but that was over 2m6f in November 2016 and he hasn't won since!

At 12yrs of age, he's one of three 11yo+ veterans along with Eamon An Cnoic (11) and Applesandpierres (14) and you can't help but think the latter can't have many more races to come. The assessor seems to suggest that there's two sets of runners here, the top five in the weights are all rated within seven pounds of each other and the bottom three are grouped within two pounds, but top weight Howdyalikemenow will carry some 22lbs more than bottom weight Applesandpierres.

Howdyalikemenow ran pretty well and was only beaten by just over 6.5 lengths on handicap debut at Cheltenham back in November, even if he did finish 13th of 18 he was only about 4 lengths away from making the frame. Prior to that run, he landed back to back Class 4 Novice hurdles over 2m½f and he now goes here off the same mark as LTO, but in a less competitive contest. The yard's form is a concern, though with just 1 winner from 14 over the past fortnight prior to having four running on Tuesday, although they are 18/107 (16.8% SR) in Ffos Las Handicap hurdles over the last five years.

Wicked West was 0 from 5 for trainer Chris McSharry, but has looked revitalised since switching to Dr Richard Newland. He won both his first two starts for his new handlers, both at Class 4 over 2m/2m½f, the first of which was over this course and distance and he was a decent third at a higher level on his heavy ground debut last time out.

Eamon An Cnoic was a pretty decent chaser back in his day and had a good spell over hurdles last February, finishing 212 in the space of three weeks, but hasn't done much since. He ran in a Listed chase at Ascot at the end of October on his return from almost six months off track and was pulled up before half of the fences had been jumped. From there he's had one more outing at Exeter in mid-December when 9th of 11, beaten by 50 lengths in a Class 3 hurdle and I don't think that a 4lb drop in the weights will do much for his chances here.

Natural History was a really useful runner on the Flat (1211 in hcps before a 2nd of 8 at Gr3) before turning his attentions to hurdling, where he was a runner-up in each of his first two efforts (Jan/Feb 2021) prior to hosing up at Plumpton by 15 lengths at this class/distance at the start of March. A 16lb rise in weight put the brakes on him somewhat, but his mark has now dropped to just 2lbs higher than that Plumpton stroll and if he fancies this, he's got a chance for a yard in good form right now.

Higgs won a couple of hurdle races for his current yard back in April/May 2018, but did little else in six subsequent races before moving to Dr Richard Newland where he made the frame in three of five starts and was a runner-up last time out. He's now 3lbs lower than that last run and has moved back to his original trainer, but he's up in class and running for the first time in over seventeen months and will probably need the run.

Applesandpierres isn't getting any younger/better at 14 (I know the feeling!) and although the record books say he has won two of his last five (151P4) in the UK, those wins were in December 2019 and January 2020. He's actually done a fair bit of running in France during 2020/21 and although he did win over 2m3f at Vittel in mid-August 2020, his overall form since his last UK win reads P5100PUP4 and he's not one to trust here.

Sabbathical was third here in a Class 5, heavy ground hurdle over course and distance 11 months ago, before embarking on a five-race spell over fences where he finished 13721 prior to a return to hurdling at Southwell seven weeks ago. He was only third of six that, yet within four lengths of the winner of what has proven to be a fairly poor race. He goes off the same mark here, but steps up two classes which will make life tough and as a stablemate of Howdyalikemenow comes from a yard shy of recent winners, even if they have gone well here in the past.

Sirop De Menthe hasn't raced for almost ten months and this 12yr old's campaign last season saw him finish 5F007, coming home last of seven beaten by over 80 lengths at Fontwell in March. He had fallen here at Ffos Las and the other three defeats were by 28, 60 and 85 lengths. He has won five times over hurdles, but hasn't scored in any of his last 16 outings since winning here on heavy ground over 2m6f way back in mid-November 2016. I'd not be surprised if he's in a different postcode sector when the winner crosses the line here.

At this point, I'm probably leaning (alphabetically, of course) towards the likes of Howdyalikemenow, Natural History & Wicked West, but let's see if the past win/place form of these runners under Wednesday's expected conditions, courtesy of Instant Expert changes my thoughts...

So, we've just three heavy ground winners, but aside from Wicked West with just one run on this going, the rest of them have good place records on heavy. Sirop de Menthe has a really poor record at Class 3, but again the rest mainly have done well from a place perspective at this grade. The three former course runners have all made the frame with Wicked West the sole hurdle success here and the trip holds no fears for any of them.

I wouldn't say that Instant Expert has re-affirmed my initial favoured runners, but it hasn't dissuaded me from them and I certainly haven't warmed towards Sirop de Menthe, who is an out and out hold up horse, like one of the other old boys Applesandpierres, as you can see from their last four outings below...

...whereas those from Natural History and upwards have all tended to get on with it in most of their races, which based on past similar contests is the way to tackle this one...

The basic premise from those stats are that the further forward you race, the better and this does help to consolidate my thinking that Howdyalikemenow, Natural History & Wicked West will all be involved in the final shake-up.

Summary

We had five runners, who look like they generally tend to get on with things, but Sabbathical also has two prominent runs from his last four outings. Initially, I'm discarding both Sirop de Menthe and Applesandpierres on grounds of age, form and pace profile with the former also failing on Class 3 results and a layoff. Higgs is best left watched after 524 days and Eamon An Cnoic is in a dreadful run of form right now, so that's half the field gone.

I'm still left with my initial trio Howdyalikemenow, Natural History & Wicked West along with possible prominent runner Sabbathical, who I think I like least of this quartet. His yard is out of form, he wasn't great last time out and steps up two classes here.

So, after all that, I'm back to the same trio and I think it's between Natural History and Wicked West and the bookies have them at 3/1 and 11/4 respectively and I, too, have them pretty closely matched but I think I want them in the order I've typed them. Howdyalikemenow looks quite short at 9/4, though.

 

 

 

Racing Insights, Tuesday 04/01/22

Tuesday's free GOLD feature is The Shortlist, a simple (and usually brief) report highlighting those horses with a largely ‘green’ profile in the Instant Expert Report each day. It covers win or place stats, and can be viewed for both today’s and tomorrow’s racing.

GREEN is good (33% or better win rate) – worth 3 points
AMBER is quite good (16-32% win rate) – worth 1 point
RED is not so good (0-15% win rate) – worth -1 points
GREY means there is no available data for that factor - worth 0 points

The final column, ‘Score’, is the sum of the previous five ‘colour’ columns, with 15 being an all green profile, and 9 being the lowest score appearing on this report.

HINT: The best bets are not necessarily the highest scores. Rather, they are often the biggest difference between a Shortlist horse and the ‘best of the rest’ in that race.

N.B. Shortlist selections are unlikely to make a profit, at SP at least, to blind backing. Our recommendation is – and has always been – that The Shortlist should be a starting point rather than an end in itself. That said, it continues to highlight horses whose chance is better than recent form - and its odds - imply.

[Please refer to our User Guide for further information]

And here is The Shortlist for Tuesday...

In addition to The Shortlist, we also our usual daily selection of full free race cards and for Tuesday, they will be...

  • 1.45 Hereford
  • 2.00 Lingfield
  • 3.10 Lingfield

It's pretty poor racing on Tuesday, I'm afraid, but the Hereford race is the best (on paper) of the three free races and it does have two runners from , so although with 14 runners it takes me out of my comfort zone, I'm going to have a quick run through the 1.45 Hereford to see if I can whittle a large-ish field down to something I'm more comfortable with. The race itself is a Class 4, 4yo+ handicap hurdle over a right handed 3m1½f, where they'll tackle 13 flights of hurdles on good to soft ground (soft in places with more showers forecast) in a bid to scoop at pot worth £7,570 and here are the contenders...

FORM : All bar three (Mr Clarkson, Fitzroy & Glance from Clover) have at least one win from their last five outings, but all three do have a runner-up finish amongst those results. Steinkraus & Art of Diplomacy are our LTO winners and the form horses look like being Mr Washington, Steinkraus and possibly Beau Haze.

CLASS MOVERS : Theme Tune, Scarpia (2nd handicap run here), Subcontinent & Fitzroy all step down a level from Class 3 action with the two LTO winners Steinkraus & Art of Diplomacy stepping up from Class 5 wins.

COURSE/DISTANCE FORM : Beau Haze has won here over 2m4f and Global Harmony won here over 3m2f on his only previous hurdles run on this track.

DAYS SINCE LAST RUN : All bar three (Mr Clarkson @ 243 days, Fitzroy @ 74 days, Glance from Cover @ 243 days) have raced in the last six weeks with three (Scarpia, Gazette Bourgeoise & Fifrelet) being rested for less than three weeks.

There are plenty of green positive form icons for both trainers and jockeys, but not too many red negative ones aside from those for Fitzroy. Also, on the subject of jockeys, half of the fourteen of them are claimers (3x3lb, 2x5lb & 2x7lb).

Instant Expert is our go-to guide to a horse's suitability for the task ahead and here's the win & place overview for this race...

GOING : Mr Washington's 4 wins and a place from 5 is clearly the best on offer, but honourable mentions go to Subcontinent (1w, 3pl from 7) and Beau Haze (2w, 3pl from 9). Mr Clarkson's 2 wins from 8 is respectable, but he hasn't made the frame in any of his six defeats.

CLASS : Again it's Mr Washington catching my eye with 3 wins and 2 places from 7, but Mr Clarkson had made the frame in all three runs and Subcontinent, Go Chique & Beau Haze also have good place numbers.

COURSE : Only four of this field have raced here before with two (Global Harmony & Beau Haze) winning. Steinkraus is the only one of the four to fail to place.

DISTANCE : At 3m to 3.25m, the same five runners are green for both win and place ie Mr Washington, Global Harmony, Go Chique, Steinkraus & Art of Diplomacy

And based on the above notes, Fifrelet, Fitzroy, Gazette Bourgeoise, Glance from Cover, Scarpia & Theme Tune look weakest, albeit off a small number of runs.

Just shy of 3m2f on Good to Soft/Soft ground might take some getting here, so let's consult the PACE stats to see which approach has worked best here in the past...

Only nine previous races to consider, but those wanting to set the pace have done best, but those immediately behind them have come off worst, so the previous unheralded Gazette Bourgeoise finally gets a positive mention here, though I doubt she'd have enough about her to hang on and win.

At the other end of the pace spectrum, not such good news for Mr Washington, who up to now had ticked lots of boxes for us, but if he was best in all departments, he'd end up being too short to back.

Summary

Despite his pace profile not suggesting he'll do well here, Mr Washington has been a positive throughout the selection process and although this could be a very competitive contest, he's the one I like best after 5 wins and a narrow defeat as a runner-up from his last 7 runs, he's sure to be there or thereabouts again. I had him as a 6/1 chance here, so to see Bet365 offering 8/1 and four places, I'll take an E/W bet.

In fact, most firms are paying on four places (Sky go 5) and the ones I think are likeliest to be involved here are Art of Diplomacy (LTO winner receiving weight from most of the field), Beau Haze (decent form and good IE place scores), Go Chique (proven at the trip) and Steinkraus (has won at both trip & going and comes here in good form).

Art of Diplomacy is probably the best of that quartet, but odds of 11/2 prevent an E/W bet from me. Beau Haze is currently 14/1 with Go Chique 10/1 and Steinkraus 11/1 and I wouldn't deter you from backing any of that quartet for a small E/W tickle.

Racing Insights, Monday 03/01/22

Assessing the probable pace/tempo of a race is still a facet of bet selection missed by many UK bettors, but its importance cannot be overstated. The PACE tab on our racecards quickly gives you a good idea of how the race might pan out and it's applicable for all races from your straight 5f sprint to your 4m+ stayers' contests. This tab is one of our many GOLD features, but we think it's so important that we make it fully available to ALL readers for ALL races every Sunday and Monday, including this selection of free races...

  • 12.50 Southwell
  • 3.00 Musselburgh
  • 3.10 Lingfield
  • 7.00 Wolverhampton

The best of those races (on paper, anyway) should be the one North of the Border. Only seven are set to run in the 3.00 Musselburgh, but it's a Class 3 handicap chase for 5yo+ runners, so it should be of a reasonable standard. The going is currently Good to Soft (soft in places) and with showers forecast, I wouldn't expect the ground to get any quicker between now and race time. The trip is a right handed three miles and they'll have to safely negotiate eighteen fences to land the £5,882 prize. Here's the card...

Both Eaglehill and Brian Boranha won last time out and in fact, only Dino Boy and Elmono are without a win in their most recent formlines, although the former does have a coupled# of runner-up finishes in his last five. Three of the five (First Account, That's a Given & Pookie Pekan) step up a level from Class 4 and Elmono makes his first appearance since a wind operation.

That's a Given and Pookie Pekan are the only ones not to have have won at a similar trip to today, whilst both First Account and Elmono have won over course & distance, albeit the former's C&D success was over hurdles and the latter is actually 2 from 2 here. No long layoffs to contend with here, all have raced in the last 12 weeks, but all have had at least 4 weeks rest.

Brian Boranha & Elmono are the "old boys" here at 11 yrs old, takijg on 3 x 8yos and 2 x 9yos, whilst the handicappers suggests that just 12lbs separates the entire field. On recent and/or course form, the trainers/jockeys of First Account and That's A Given have the most positive green icons, but Elmono's yard have had a good time of it recently.

First Account finished 221 over hurdles (all at Class 4) in early summer before spending his autumn sharpening up on the flat. He eventually returned to NH action at Carlisle almost two months ago when only held off by a neck in a Class 4, 2m4½f handicap chase. He's up in class and up 2lbs, which makes life tougher, but he'll get the ground, especially if it softens and he's 2 from 2 here at Musselburgh. His yard have done well in chases here and are in good form right now and he's by Malinas..

Eaglehill has so far proven to be a far better chaser (3 from 5) than he was over hurdles (1/7) and his story so far over fences is win or not finish (P11P1). He didn't seem to like the heavy ground on chasing debut at Lingfield just over 13 months ago, but won on both good and soft ground in March '21 before being pulled up at Cheltenham in April in a race that might have been one too many (3rd run in 41 days). He then had a 6 month break but won by 8 lengths on his return at Fakenham over 3m1½f and is only up 2lbs for that win. Only concern is that prior to Sunday's sole runner, the yard is 1 from 33 over the last fortnight.

Dino Boy has made the frame in six of his ten starts over fences, but comes here in indifferent form having been beaten by 33 lengths when 5th of 6 here over 2m4½f at the end of October and subsequently going down by 75 lengths (8th of 13) in the Scottish Borders National over 4m½f at Kelso four weeks ago. His best form has come on soft ground and most of his running is done over trips further than today, he looks vulnerable here.

Brian Boranha has 4 wins and 3 further places from 22 efforts over fences and scored over 3m1f at Catterick last time out. He may well have only won by half a length, but was always doing enough, suggesting there might be a bit of life in the old dog just yet. A 2lb rise for that win means a similar run puts him in contention here, but I really should add that the Catterick win his first since October 2018 and came after a run of 14 defeats where he only made the frame twice. Let's see which Brian turns up.

That's A Given made the frame in four of seven over fences, winning the last of them, a Class 4 novice handicap over 2m5f at Newton Abbot six months ago. He was then pulled up before 3 out in a Grade 3 over 2m6f at Market Rasen a fortnight later and then out back in the shed for 20 weeks. He reappeared here at Musselburgh four weeks ago to race over hurdles, but came home last of 10, beaten by 34 lengths over 2m4f and now steps up in trip (half a mile) and class and is still 4lbs higher than July's win. Lots of positive stats in his favour, but this looks a tough ask...

Pookie Pekan ended last season finishing second of nine in a Class 4 contest at Carlisle over 2m4½f and had just one summer run at Perth two months later, winning over the same trip, but at this Class 3 level off a mark of 110 prior to taking a 25-week break. He returned to action at Newcastle just over five weeks ago, but his jumping let him down on the way to an 18-length, Class 4, defeat coming home 5th of 10 over 2m4f off a mark of 115. It's over 13 months since he raced over this distance (his best form is at around 2m4f), he's back up in class and he's still 3lbs higher than that last win, but he will "get" the ground if nothing else.

Elmono has neither won nor made the frame in his last six outings since a decent runner-up finish in an 8-runner, Class 2 contest at Perth in September after he'd gone up 5lbs and two classes from a soft ground win over 3m1½f at Cartmel a month earlier. He's now rated some 10lbs lower than that win and steps back up in trip to a more suitable distance for him. He's had a wind op and returns to a venue where he has 2 wins and 2 places from 7 efforts including a course and distance win, but comes here off the back of some heavy defeats, although his yard is in decent nick...

So, we've got an overview of the field and we've ascertained that we've some soft ground winners, some course / distances winners etc, but Instant Expert gives us a quick, clear overview of their past form over expected conditions, where initially Eaglehill is the eye-catcher, albeit off a small number of runs...

He's never raced here before, but that aside a full line of green is always seen as a positive and of those racing off higher marks than their last win, his +2lbs is the joint best alongside Brian Boranha and these are our two LTO winners, so they're not coming back down towards historical marks, they're actually in form. From that graphic, That's A Given looks the weakest, but with only a fairly small dataset to work with, it might be an idea to look at place form...

...which as you'd expect gives us more green to look at. That's A Given still looks weak here and Brian Boranha's claims are hardly enhanced, at least some of the others have acquired a bit more green

Feature of the day is PACE, of course and what we know from similar past races is that it pays to be up towards the front end...

...where leaders have a really good chance of remaining in the frame, even if they do often get picked off by the prominent chaser/stalker. I'd take the mid-div stats with a pinch of salt or at least a bit of caution, as 8 runners from 140 (5.7%) is a really small sample size, but I think the main takeaway from the PACE stats is that hold up horses tend to struggle.

They can win, of course and their conversion of placers into winners (41.6%) is very good, but life is tough from the back under expected conditions. All of which would suggest that the likes of Pookie Pekan, Eaglehill and Dino Boy are best suited by the way they've approached recent races...

...Elmono is a conundrum, switching in his last two from a hold-up style to more advanced positions, but with no change in form, First Account will probably run prominently, as those two hold-up runs were on the Flat and he has actually tracked/chased the leaders in each of his last three NH outings. Brian Boranha will definitely be further back, as will That's A Given, unless either have a change of tactics.

Summary

I've written today's piece a good few hours earlier than normal, due to a family commitment this afternoon, so there are currently only odds available from Hills. Throughout the piece, I've been drawn back towards Eaglehill and he's the one ticking the most boxes for me here. He's an 11/4 to 3/1 shot in my eyes, so Hills' 5/2 is a little on the skinny side for me, meaning I'll need to hang on for other firms or to see if the 9/4 fav First Account shortens in the market.

First Account is probably next best, but he's also too short in my opinion at 9/4. If I was tempted to take a longer-priced E/W punt, then Pookie Pekan might try to make all and hold on for a place, but even his 9/1 ticket is a good couple of points short of where I'd want to be with him and there are only 2 places offered by the bookies, although the exchanges might give three.

 

 

 

Racing Insights, 1st January 2022

It was nice to end 2021 with a few nice results, but now we turn our attentions to what will hopefully be a better year for all concerned.

Saturday's free feature is always the Trainer/Jockey Combo (TJC) report, bringing together the form of trainers and jockeys into a single composite report that has produced excellent results for users. Quite simply, some trainers turn to specific riders when they have one ‘ready to win’. This report quickly identifies the most profitable combinations and clicking on any row will reveal the entries for that trainer/jockey pairing : clicking on the entry will open the race in a new tab.

HINT: Look for a good sample size – ideally five or more – combined with a decent win percentage (30%+), and a positive figure in the profit column.

[Please refer to our User Guide for further information]
In addition to a daily free feature, we also have a selection of full free racecards open to non-Gold subscribers and with it being a busy day of racing, we've half a dozen free ones to consider...
  • 12.15 Cheltenham
  • 1.15 Exeter
  • 1.30 Fairyhouse
  • 2.15 Catterick
  • 2.18 Southwell
  • 3.10 Cheltenham
The last of those six interests me the most, so we'll take a look at the 3.10 Cheltenham. It's the Grade 2 Relkeel Hurdle where seven 5yo+ runners will go left handed over ten hurdles on soft ground. The trip is 2m4½f and these are the competitors seeking to land almost £40k...

Brewingupastorm is easily the best off at the weight based on handicap marks and is therefore probably the one to beat. A winner of three from four outings this year, including the Grade 2 National Spirit hurdle at Fontwell ten months ago, he defied a 212 day absence to win at Aintree last time out and although this is a tougher ask back up in class, he did win easily that day, but there are concerns over the yard's form after just 1 winner from 30 in the past fortnight (prior to Friday's racing, where both were beaten).

Guard Your Dreams has made the frame in six of his ten efforts over hurdles, winning five of them, including a Grade 2 success on this very track just three weeks ago taking his record here to 2 from 3. That was easily his best effort to date and more is needed here but he has already made the frame in a Grade 1 contest over this trip at Liverpool back in April and his trainer/jockey have excellent records here at HQ...

McFabulous is rated as being a pound better than when he won this race last season for his current yard/rider when the race was ran at Kempton. He has only raced twice since, finishing behind Brewinupastorm on both occasions by 5.5 lengths in the Gr2 National Spirit (they were 1st & 2nd) at Fontwell in February and then by 2.75 lengths in the Gr1 Aintree Hurdle (5th & 8th) at Liverpool in April. He seems to be held by Brewinupastorm on that evidence and a 268-day absence is another cause for concern, but he has had a wind op in that time and his trainer and jockey are both in decent form.

Dans Le Vent is only 3 from 21 over hurdles during the past 51 months, but has 2 wins and 2 runner-up finishes from 7 starts over the last 55 weeks, suggesting that the penny might just have taken a while to drop with him. His last three runs have seen him finish 2nd of 22 in a Gr3 at Aintree back in April, 2nd of 12 at Ffos Las in October after a 190-day break and he then won next/last time out, landing a 12-runner Grade 3 Stayers Hurdle at Haydock six weeks ago. He might not have the best strike rate of this field, but he's definitely on his best form right now.

On The Blind Side is a decent enough hurdler (5 wins and 5 places from 14) and was second in this event behind McFabulous last season at Kempton. It might well have been a different story had Cheltenham hosted the race, as he has two wins and a runner-up finish from three efforts over hurdles here. He was a valiant runner in a Gr2 at Newbury in November, but was only 6th of 8 beaten by 22 lengths at Ascot last time out, albeit in a Grade 1 contest. My concern here is that the trip won't be long enough for him, his last ten races over hurdles have been at longer trips than today with seven of them being at 2m7½f or further.

Indefatigable is now a non-runner, which is a pity, as she has a good record on soft ground, has dome well here at HQ in the past and has had enjoyed some good results at this level, winning a grade 2 just 2 starts and 2 months ago.

Stormy Ireland is a likeable mare who landed back to back Gr2 then Gr1 contests in Ireland back in April/May of 2021 before taking a six month break. On her return in late-November she was well beaten (36 lengths as 6th of 8) in another Gr1 at Fairyhouse. This is, of course, not quite as difficult on paper and she can be expected to come on for having had the run, but of her overall 8 from 21 record, she's 0 from 7 in the UK including four visits to Cheltenham.

Essentially, we've half a dozen quality horses here who could all land this based on their past performances, but Instant Expert can show us exactly how they score over the conditions they're expected to face here...

Field size is of no concern to any of these runners, they've all won their fair share of small filed contests and all bar Dans Le Vent have a good record at this trip. That said, aside from winning 3 of 7 in small fields, Dans Le Vent's numbers just don't stack up against the rest of them and I'm going to drop him from the reckoning here. The remaining five runners all have at least three blocks of green with both Guard Your Dreams and McFabulous only missing out on Class and Course respectively.

McFabulous has only raced here once, so it was always going to be 0% or 100% and his sole run here was a Listed Bumper over three years ago, so it's not entirely relevant. Guard Your Dreams is only 1 from 3 on soft ground, but did win his only start on heavy, so with rain forecast, he should be fine there and as for being 1 from 5 at Class 1, he has also been a runner-up at Grade 1.

A small field on a big wide track like Cheltenham might lead this to be a tactical affair and in similar contests here...

...we're advised that being held up isn't going to do you any favours, which would have been another nail in the coffin of Dans Le Vent's chances, had I not already discarded that one...

The likely favourite Brewingupastorm has been held up in two of his last three runs too and this might pose a problem for him here, but based on their last three outings there's a suggestion that four of them will want to make this a pretty pacy affair.

Summary

Brewinupastorm is best off at the weights, comes here in good form, but steps up in class, his yard are out of form, he might left wanting rom the back of the field and neither he nor his stablemates have a particularly good record here at Cheltenham. He's failed to complete 2 of 3 runs here and was unplaced in the other, whilst Olly Murphy's record isn't good at just 2 wins from 50 on this track, so at odds of around 11/8, I just can't back him.

That said, he seems to have the measure of McFabulous, who he has beaten twice and the latter will probably need the run after nine months away from the track. Stormy Ireland was well beaten last time out although down from Gr1 to Gr2 with a run under the belt, 36 lengths is till a lot (too much for me) to find. She's likely to set the pace, making herself a target for one of the prominent runners to aim at.

On The Blind Side loves it here at Cheltenham and ran a good race in this contest last season, but he's better suited to staying hurdles in my opinion and had this been three (or more) furlongs further, then he'd have been ticking plenty of boxes for me, but it isn't and he therefore doesn't, bringing us finally to Guard Your Dreams, who likes it here and has won at this level here. His trainer and jockey both have good records at this venue and the horse will relish underfoot conditions. Just as I don't see the fav justifying being as short as 5/4 in places, nor do I see why this one is as long as 5/1 in places.

I don't fancy Stormy Ireland or On the Blind Side under these conditions and I think McFabulous probably won't beat Brewinupastorm, which puts the fav as runner-up here at worst. And I think that's where I have him (just!) Guard Your Dreams makes much more sense at the odds, so I'll take the 5's on offer from Bet365/888Sport.

Happy New year everyone,
Chris

 

Racing Insights, 31/12/21

The last Racing Insights piece of the year, I do hope you've found the column useful. We end the year with the Horses for Courses (H4C) report as our free Geegeez Gold feature, as indeed it is every Friday. This report shows the full course history since 2009 of any horse running that has previously had a run at the track and is sorted by number of wins, but this can be changed to any column at the user’s discretion.

As well as today’s race time, course, horse name, jockey and trainer name, there is a breakdown of runs, wins and places, and profit and loss calculations for both win and each way betting. As with all Geegeez reports, there is a ‘Today’ and a ‘Tomorrow’ (for the next day’s racing) view.

HINT: Layers might like to look towards the lower end of the report, for those with negative performance at the track.

[Please refer to our User Guide for further information]

My settings for the H4C report for Friday have generated the following runners of interest...

And we also have our usual selection of full free racecards, which cover the...

  • 12.22 Uttoxeter
  • 12.40 Lingfield
  • 1.20 Punchestown
  • 2.55 Lingfield

Now, one of our H4C report qualifiers runs in one of our free races and it looks a competitive affair to boot. It might be tricky to call and I may well get my fingers burnt, but I think I should end the year by tackling the 12.40 Lingfield, a trappy-looking, Class 3, 5f sprint handicap for runners aged 3 and over. There are eight runners, including H4C horse Lucky Ava tackling this left handed polytrack contest in a bid to land the £6,210 first prize and here are your runners and riders etc...

We've no LTO winners on display here, but all bar Outrage, Lihou and Marnie James have at least one win from their last six outings. Not only is Outrage without a recent win, he's also up in class today, but so are Vandad and H4C horse Lucky Ava after defeats LTO. Lihou and Marnie James, however, come the other direction as they drop down from class 2 action last time out.

Of the eight runners, only Marnie James has yet to win at Lingfield, but he has only been here once before and has won over this trip. The other seven have all won over 5f on this very track. Vandad hasn't raced for three months, but his rivals have all been seen in the last six weeks with Outrage, Lihou and Marnie James running in the last fortnight.

There's not many positive pointers from a trainer/jockey perspective, but Marco Ghiani (Sir Rodneyredblood) seems in decent form and also has a good record at this venue, as does Jim Crowley aboard Lihou.

As you'd expect from a race where 7 of the 8 have won over course and distance, there's quite a bit of green on the Instant Expert...

...where I'd say the likes of Vandad and Marnie James look vulnerable. The former is 0/13 on the going, 1/7 here at Lingfield, steps up in class and is 5lbs higher than his last win : that's not a good combination. Marnie James effectively has a whole line of red (the field column is the weakest for me) and his 1/8 over this trip is poor and even if he is 17lbs below his last win, he's not ringing my bell right now, so I'm thinking neither of these are winning this.

But could they make the frame? Let's see if they look any better from a place perspective...

Well, if I'm honest, Vandad does look a better place prospect than a winner, but so do most of his rivals except Marnie James who basically doesn't even make the frame in similar contests. Neither of these do it for me, so they're out of consideration.

According to our course guide, jockey David Probert says that..."In five and six furlong handicaps, you want to be handy, and perhaps ideally with a middle draw to cut the corner a little. That gives you the most options. They're both tricky starts, the five in a little chute on the crown of the bend, and the six just before the bend on the main track. Inside draws need to be very quick away and edge right a bit to get a position, because if you don't you'll be in a pocket and it'll be hard..."

David's assertion is backed up by the stats of 56 similar races since 2014, which show that the further way from stall 1 you're drawn, the harder it has been to win and that the top half of the draw has enjoyed the most success from both a win and place perspective.

This news is good for H4C horse Lucky Ava as well as Outage and the two I've already dismissed. That doesn't mean those drawn higher than four can't win, but it will be a bit more difficult and they'll have to get their tactics spot on over a 5f that has again shown a lineal deterioration of chance, this time favouring those racing furthest forwards...

The key here would seem to be get out quickly and hold on and this somewhat annoyingly for me would again seem to suit Marnie James, who I don't like for this contest. That said, Rose Hip won here over course and distance despite coming from the rear...

Now here's the rub, low draws are best here and leading is the preferred tactic, but when we look at the pace/draw heatmap, the low drawn leader doesn't come out on top! Don't get me wrong, they still have a good win percentage, but they're only third best as leaders from mid/high draw fare better as seen here...

...which would then tend to tip the balance back towards the likes of Lihou and Sir Rodneyredblood.

Summary

At this point, I've only ruled out Vandad and Marnie James (whose pace/draw profile hopefully won't bite me on the backside), so I've still six in contention. Of the six, Sir Rodneyredblood is another favoured by the pace/draw heatmap and he did win three and four starts ago, but that pushed his mark up into the 80's and after finishing second off 83 and then last of six off 84, I feel he's too high in the weights now.

Top Breeze might try to lead, but might be held up, they keep changing tactics, but nothing seems to be working right now and he doesn't see races out especially competitive ones, so I'd be reluctant to go with him and I'm not massively keen on Outrage either after he was only 6th here over course and distance last time out. The step up in class isn't going to help and he's likely to have a wall of runners in front of him as they come of the home turn.

All of which leaves me alphabetically with Lihou, Lucky Ava (the H4C horse) and Rose Hip.

Lihou has of course, won here over course and distance and was also a runner-up twice here over 5f at Class 2 earlier in the year off marks of 89 and 90. He was a respectable third at Wolverhampton in a higher grade last time out, despite having to run wide and now down 3lbs from that run is of real interest here.

Lucky Ava is proven here and she's 3 from 12 this year. She has made the frame in each of her last three outings and was only narrowly touched off over course and distance last time out. Sadly she's up 3lbs for that defeat, which makes this tougher, but a repeat effort puts her in the frame again.

Rose Hip was the horse who beat Lucky Ava here 41 days ago and then was a more than respectable third last time out on Tapeta debut and up 4lbs. She's won three times and placed once from five on a left handed turn which is far better than her record on a straight track and being drawn out in seven could help her "slingshot" the bend. She's a pound worse off with Lucky Ava today, but that shouldn't anchor here.

Truth be told, there's probably very little between the three of them, as we saw when the latter two were only a short head apart over course and distance. These are the three I like best, but any of them could win it. The bookies have Lihou as 3/1 favourite with Lucky Ava a 5/1 chance, whilst Rose Hip is as long as 13/2 in places and I do have a slight preference for her. I think she'll beat Lucky Ava again, so I'm taking Rose Hip at 13/2. Lihou is on a long-ish losing run and despite looking ready to succeed, losing is a habit and Lucky Ava might well edge second, but I doubt there'll be much between all three.

Racing Insights, 30th December 2021

Thursday's feature of the day is full access for all readers to the Instant Expert tab on the racecards. This is by far the most popular tab on the geegeez racecards.

The reason? It has the ability to condense the entire form profile of every runner in the race into a single, easily digestible, view. The report covers the form in terms of wins (or places), runs, and win (or place) percentage for each of going, class, course, distance, and field size. It also compares today’s official rating with the horse’s last winning official rating. The display is colour coded: green for a higher percentage rate, amber for a middling percentage, and red for a low percentage. Horses with no form under a certain condition have grey figures.

IMPORTANT NOTE: Where a horse has no UK/Irish form – i.e. it is having its first run in Britain or Ireland under Rules – it will not show up on Instant Expert at all.

And every Thursday we make this open to all readers for all races, including our free ones, which will be...

  • 12.30 Haydock
  • 2.25 Taunton
  • 4.30 Wolverhampton

So, the Wolverhampton race is a poor novice affair with very little form to work with, therefore Instant Expert isn't going to help us. The Taunton race is a Listed race, so it's a decent standard but they're largely inexperienced mares (59 races between the 9 of them) and the market points to a 2-horse race, whilst the Haydock race is a Conditional Jockeys contest, which I'm not a huge fan of, but it is a stayers race on heavy ground there and these are always interesting, so let's play the 12.30 Haydock, shall we?

It's a 7-runner, Class 4, Conditional Jockeys 3yo+ Handicap Hurdle over a left handed 3m½f on heavy ground (I can't remember the last day it didn't rain or snow at some point up in the North West) and they'll tackle a dozen hurdles on their way to hopefully landing the £5,446 prize which will end up with one of these...

Macho Mover comes here in great form with 2 wins and 2 narrow defeats from his last four outings including a course and distance success here just four weeks ago when three places and four lengths clear of the re-opposing Storm Lorenzo in another conditionals race. 6lb claimer Lewis Stones was on board for the first time that day and he keeps the ride, but the horse has been put up 4lbs for the win. He has very little heavy ground form, but his yard's Class 4 hurdlers have made the frame in 21 of 35 (60%) of heavy ground Class 4 hurdles, winning 10 (28.6%) of them.

For Jim has had an excellent run since mid-November 2020 with 6 wins and a place from 11 chase/hurdles races (6112 over hurdles), but since winning over fences at 3m1f in early October, has appeared to be in the grip of the assessor, struggling off marks of 116 and 115. His last hurdles win came off 99, so even today's 110 looks a stretch for a horse much better suited to the bigger obstacles.

Storm Lorenzo is difficult to assess after just half a dozen races over six different trips at six different tracks under four different jockeys for two trainers! That said, he was fourth of ten over today's course and distance when finishing four lengths behind Macho Mover last time out, so that was a decent effort. He's 5lbs better off with the winner here, but I'm not sure that's going to be enough, even if his yard have been going well since that defeat...

Charm Offensive is an eight race maiden, but looks like she's getting the hang of things, finishing as a runner-up in her three starts earlier in the year and then third last time out. That was at Hexham just over three weeks ago when she was coming off a 31 week layoff and was only beaten by half a length then a neck in a tight finish, where she seemed to find the 2m4f trip too sharp. She stayed on well, though, suggesting that this step back up in trip would suit and the recent form of his yard is encouraging too...

Lady Bowes is the second of the two 7yr old mares and she had a good 2020, winning two of her three starts : a soft ground bumper and a heavy ground maiden hurdle, but she has only raced twice since that hurdle success 55 weeks ago. She could only finish 6th of 11 at Perth in may after 155 days off track, but fared much better at Hexham three weeks ago when defying a 30-week break to finish 3rd of 14 on heavy ground, beaten by just 4 lengths. She's actually a pound better off here and could be entitled to improve for the run, but she's up in trip by 4.5f here and this is a half mile further than she has ever raced, so fitness would have to be taken on trust, but there are some stats that give a little confidence to her chances...

Stolen Money struggled in his only bumper run and was pulled up on hurdling debut over 2m4f at Ayr in November 2020, but in four efforts since has finished 2421 all at trips of 3m1f/3m1½f, so he's clearly more a stayer than a speedster. He was only fourth on his sole heavy ground start, but both runner-up finishes were on soft ground, so he shouldn't be totally at sea here. His win at Carlisle LTO came after a 259-day absence so he could well improve here and the third placed horse that day has already raced and won since.

Storm Tiger won his only PTP contest, so he should get the trip, even if his four outings under Rules have only been over 2m½f (twice) and 2m4f (twice). his best effort to date came at Hexham LTO when fourth of fourteen on heavy ground on handicap debut, just a neck behind the re-opposing Lady Bowes, who he now meets again effectively 2lbs better off. Like the mare, he too is stepping up in trip, but if they both handle the trip, I'd expect him to be able to reverse the placings.

We've got heavy ground here, which can often make or break a horse's chances and previous success in the mud is always a bonus. Three miles-plus on a heavy Haydock track can take some getting, so let's use Instant Expert to see if any of them will be suited by conditions than their rivals...

We don't have much heavy ground form to call upon if truth be told, but Lady Bowes and Charm Offensive (to a lesser degree) seems to have coped with the mud pretty well so far, although Macho Mover has 3 wins and a place from 6 on soft ground. All bar Storm Tiger have some decent results at this grade with Macho Mover the most experienced and his 3 wins/4 places from 13 is a good return. He's also the only one to have won here over hurdles from the three who've been here before and although For Jim is only 1 from 6 at the trip his 5 places suggests he's definitely proven to stay, but he's better over fences and carries much more weight than his last hurdles win.

In the last ten similar races to this one ie 6-8 runners, 3m-3m2f, heavy ground hurdles at Haydock, 30 of the 79 runners (38%) have raced prominently, whilst 29 (36.7%) have been held up, but with very differing fortunes, as prominent runners have won 6 times with just the one hold-up horse prevailing. In fact the stats show that the further back you race, the worse your chances of success become, with leaders faring best of all...

...so we now need to find/work out how our runners will run and although we don't have a crystal ball, we have the next best thing : a log of how every horses has previously raced and here are the last four efforts from our seven runners...

Stolen Money is the only one to have led in any of the last four runs by any of these runners and with a prominent effort LTO, that would seem to be his favoured tactics and he could well steal a bit of a lead early doors here.

Summary

For the win, I've got it between Macho Mover and Stolen Money for the win/places. The bookies have Macho Mover as the 11/4 favourite with Stolen Money a 4/1 chance and these odds are probably fair. Macho Mover has it on form, but Stolen Money is making good progress and gets weight from the fav. Neither have any heavy ground form, but both have fared well on soft ground, but in the pace department, there's the chance of Stolen Money opening up a gap that the rest might find hard to bridge.

If I've read it right, then there won't hopefully be too much between the two here, but I'm leaning marginally towards Stolen Money at 4's.

Of the rest, you're probably looking at the likes of Lady Bowes to chase the leader, but the five really could finish in any order.

Racing Insights, 29th December 2021

Wednesday's free Geegeez Gold feature is the Trainer Stats report, which is in fact four reports in one, containing information on a trainer’s recent form, and their longer term course form. For each of 14 day, 30 day, course one year, and course five year, users can filter by runs, wins, places, win profit/loss and each way profit/loss. Clicking on any row in the report will reveal the runners that trainer has entered on the day in question, and clicking on the runner row will open that race in a new tab.

HINT: It can help to cross refer the profit figures of the trainer with their win/place percentage. A few big priced winners can mean a trainer has a high profit number but a low strike rate. You may need to be very patient, and a bit lucky, to come out in front this way!

[Please refer to our User Guide for further information]

In addition to this excellent report, we also have the following five FREE races for you...

  • 1.17 Kelso
  • 1.45 Leopardstown
  • 2.05 Limerick
  • 2.27 Kelso
  • 2.40 Limerick

My fairly stringent criteria for the Trainer Stats report haven't given me much of note, so I'm going to tackle the first of our free races. It might only have seven runners, but it looks a competitive affair where you could easily make a case for at least four or five of them. The ground is going to be soft (at best) for this Class 3, 4yo+, Handicap Chase over a left handed 2m1½f, where they'll tackle a dozen fences in pursuit of the £7,407 prize awarded to the winner of the 1.17 Kelso...

The King of May has 2 wins and 2 places from 9 over fences and probably needed the run when last of 6, beaten by 20 lengths at Musselburgh a couple of moinths back coming off a 175-day layoff. He's had a wind op and is re-united with his favoured jockey here.

Slanelough won back to back chases at Ayr/Perth in April/May prior to a 5 month break. Since returning, he is 322, going down by just 5, 2 and 4 lengths respectively. Now off the same mark as his recent runner-up finish, should be involved here.

Cedar Hill has a great record here at Kelso and has three wins and two places over C&D from five attempts over fences. he gets on well with his jockey who rides this course well, but he would probably prefer the ground to be a bit firmer.

Zolfo won four in a row in a two-month purple patch from mid-November '19 to mid-January '20 moving his official mark from 108 to 130 in the process and he has sadly toiled since, finishing P74P08 in six runs. His mark has dropped accordingly down to a very workable 113, but he's up in class here and bang out of form.

Lucky Flight has raced better over hurdles than fences and his jumping of the larger obstacles has tended to let him down, even if he did win on his chasing debut 16 months ago. Since then he's lost eight in a row and was beaten by 22 lengths as 4th of 5 last time out. I can't see how a step up in class helps him here, even if his yard is in good form.

Treshnish is the epitome of inconsistency, as his last seven outings have seen him fail to finish three times (2 x PU and 1 x F) and finish last of 9, but win the other three! If he's on a going day, he could well handle the move from Class 5 to Class 3, but each of his other two wins in the recent 1F1P9P1 sequence have been followed by a non-completion.

Monsieur Co completes the line-up receiving 4 to 24lbs from his rivals and is now rated some 15lbs lower than when he won this very race last year. That said, he has failed to even make the frame in eight starts since that success. His yard are in decent form, his jockey is riding well enough and the horse has a good record here, but this could be a struggle.

That's a general overview of the runners, but for race specific stats, we turn to Instant Expert...

The King of May is largely untried at course/distance, but has won on soft and is proven at this grade and runs off a mark 4lbs lower than his last win. Slanelough has good place figures across the board, but 1 win from 13 at Class 3 is a worry and he's 5lbs higher than his last win. Cedar Hill also ticks lots of boxes from a place perspective, but also needs a career best to win and hasn't yet done so on soft ground. Zolfo, however, has soft ground and this trip nailed down based on six efforts on each and is very well weighted (-13 from last win), but he's up in class here and out of form.

Lucky Flight looks the worst off for these conditions, but has at least made the frame at Kelso and at this trip and has won off higher marks in the past, whilst Tresnish has a pair of soft ground wins to his name but has really struggled at this level and now moves up from Class 5. Bottom weight Monsieur Co is a whopping 15lbs better off from his last win, but that was a year ago and without that course and distance success, his numbers would look poor. This is well within his grasp, but his form is just so poor.

Based on the way these horses have approached their last four outings, I'd think that Slanelough is the one most likely to set the pace...

...with The King of May bringing up the rear and if we look at the four races individually...

I'd say that the averages from the first graphic have probably got the three pacesetters right as well as the back marker, so we'll now look at the pace stats for similar previous races to see if any of them will benefit or be disadvantaged...

I've gone back to 2013, so I could get at least 10 previous races and those stats do tend to suggest that the three more prominent runners would have the best chance of winning, based on pace stats alone.

Summary

The two I like best based on the above, where none of the seven stand out if truth be told (but that's good from a competitiveness point of view) are actually the top two in the market where Cedar Hill is 5./2 and Tresnish is 4/1. Personally I have very little between the two and if the real Tresnish turns up and he races further forward as he has done in his last two outings, then he'd be the one I want.

I know there's a few ifs and buts there, but that's why he's 4/1 and not 5/2 like Cedar Hill who is unproven on soft ground and hasn't won off a mark this high.

I suppose that picking these two with those doubts over them doesn't say much about the other five, but they're not bad horses, just not quite as good for this race as my preferred duo. My backup here would be the 5/1 The King of May, but if I'm honest, this is a Class 4 race race dressed up as a Class 3 and if you treat it as such, you won't be disappointed.

Racing Insights, 28th December 2021

The Shortlist is the Geegeez free feature every Tuesday, but what is it?

Well, the Shortlist is a simple and usually brief report highlighting those horses with a largely ‘green’ profile in the Instant Expert Report each day. It covers win or place stats, and can be viewed for both today’s and tomorrow’s racing and employs the familiar Geegeez traffic light system...

GREEN is good (33% or better win rate) – worth 3 points
AMBER is quite good (16-32% win rate) – worth 1 point
RED is not so good (0-15% win rate) – worth -1 points
GREY means there is no available data for that factor - worth 0 points

The final column, ‘Score’, is the sum of the previous five ‘colour’ columns, with 15 being an all green profile, and 9 being the lowest score appearing on this report.

HINT: The best bets are not necessarily the highest scores. Rather, they are often the biggest difference between a Shortlist horse and the ‘best of the rest’ in that race.

N.B. Shortlist selections are unlikely to make a profit, at SP at least, to blind backing. Our recommendation is (and has always been) that The Shortlist should be a starting point rather than an end in itself. That said, it continues to highlight horses whose chance is better than recent form - and its odds - imply.
[Please refer to our extensive User Guide for further information]

Tuesday's Shortlist is dominated by half of the field of Leopardstown's Savills Chase, but here's the list in full...

Samcro is an interesting sort there, clearly not the force of old, but still only 9yrs old and definite has talent and at 40/1 could be a decent value for money E/W punt, but if that list above doesn't float your boat, then there's always our usual daily selection of free races, such as...

  • 1.03 Leicester
  • 1.38 Leicester
  • 1.45 Leopardstown
  • 3.20 Leicester

The best standard of the three Leicester races is the middle one, but it's a 4-runner affair with one looking like a no-hoper so I'll leave that alone. The first is a maiden hurdle where nine runners average just three previous runs each, which won't give us much to work with, so we're going to look at the 3.20 Leicester, a Class 3, 3yo+ Handicap hurdle over a right-handed 1m7½f on heavy ground and it's worth just under £5,800. Now, only six are set to run and there's the probability of a short priced favourite, but he might not win or we might find a nice E/W pick or we might have a forecast to aim at. We'll never know until we have a closer look...

Lebowski was placed in the first three of his four bumper runs, but is now 2 from 2 over hurdles, having landed a pair of 2m, Class 4 novice hurdles last month. He's up in class here and his recent exploits have "earned" him top weight off a mark of 127 for his handicap debut, which might not be enough to anchor him here. He's the likely short-priced favourite and it should be his race to win/lose with possibly only a lack of hurdling experience (handicap or otherwise) being the challenge.

Friary Rock makes a UK debut here on his first start for new handler Laura Morgan, who had a couple of winners on Boxing Day to snap out of a dry spell. She has a reasonable record with new recruits and jockey Adam Wedge is riding pretty well right now, but they'll have their work cut out with this one, I think. He was a modest hurdler in Ireland and although he made the frame in 6 of 13 races, he was never narrowly beaten and only managed to win once. Virtually all his racing is at 2m4f and beyond and this trip might be a bit sharp for him.

Jante Law was 6th of 16 on bumper debut just over 13 months ago, before making the frame at Musselburgh back in January. Since then he has finished 911 over hurdles, landing a pair of Class 4 novice contests over 2m½f at Hexham. Like Lebowski, he's also up in class for a handicap debut, but unlike the fav, Jante hasn't raced for almost eight months and despite obvious ability, might very well need the run.

McGowans Pass is unlikely to be getting better at 10 yrs of age, but he does have plenty of Class 3 (and above) experience. He was a runner-up then a winner in two bumpers, way back at the start of 2017, but then had seven months off prior to a hurdles debut at the start of December '17. Since then he has made the frame in 7 of 15 hurdles contests over a 4 year period, winning twice. His best time was last year (2020) with finishes of 12222, including a Class 3 win and three Class 2 runner-up spots. Sadly 2021 hasn't been the same and he was 7th off 11, beaten by 21 lengths after a 4 month break in April this year and then 7th of 11 again, beaten by 22 lengths at the start of this month after another break of 224 days. His mark has now dropped another 3lbs, but at 6lbs higher than his last win he's probably still to high in the weights and his form is poor, but he certainly has ability at this level.

Natural History is a really interesting (to me) runner here. he started out with seven races on the Flat, where he made the frame every time and won three of them at Classes 4, 3 and then 2. His final run on the Flat saw him finish as runner-up in the Group 3 Pravha Stakes on heavy ground at Newbury where he was only 1.75 lengths behind Euchen Glen, who has since won another Group 3 contests as well as a Listed race. Natural History hasn't, in fairness. hit those heights over hurdles just yet, but has made the frame in four of seven, winning once (Class 3, 2m) and although he's not had the best start to the new season, a revised mark of 118 is only 2lbs higher than his sole hurdles success, a race he won by 15 lengths without being ridden out. Trip and going are ideal for him and jockey, trainer and trainer/jockey are all in good form. Shortlist material.

Applesandpierres is the oldest in the race at 13 yrs of age, but did win this race when least held two years ago. He's now some 12lbs lower in the weights than that win and has only raced four times in the UK since, finishing 51P4. The win, in fairness, was another heavy ground course and distance success back in January 2020, but after being pulled up at Uttoxeter in March '20, didn't race on these shores again for 636 days before coming home 4th of 10, beaten by 32 lengths at Bangor 18 days ago. He hadn't been off track all that time though, he actually had seven (generally poor) runs in France where he was 5100PUP (14th and 15th of 16 for the two zeroes!) and I'd probably have given him a better chance here if he's just had 636 days off!

So, that's the overview of the field, where I think it's going to be (alphabetically) Jante Law, Lebowski & Natural History vs the other half of the field, but Instant Expert's summary of past performances under these conditions might change or re-affirm my thoughts...

Heavy ground here and this is key, where the top three of the field only have one heavy ground run between them, but the bottom half of the filed have all won at least once. The bottom two have it on Class 3 results and Apples is the only former course winner (twice over C&D). Apples' two C&D wins mean he's only 1 from 8 at the trip elsewhere and Lebowski/Jante Law then become the pick on distance. Friary Rock & McGowans Pass look too high in the weights and Lebowski/Jante Law are both on hcp debut.

The beauty of Instant Expert is that you can switch from win to place figures and you can amend the headings and I just want to show you a couple of other relevant issues...

The place stats...

...show the consistency of Natural History as a rival to the favourite and his record at this level led me to see how he fared at a higher grade...

Whilst we're talking about Natural History, T can tell you that, aside from last time out when he was at the rear and never involved, he likes to lead/race prominently, but he's not the only one in this field who'll want to get on with things...

...in a race where only Applesandpierres is a confirmed hold-up horse. The stats from previous similar races suggests that "going for it" is indeed the best option...

...and if five of the six want to make a race of it, they could burn each other out on testing ground.

Summary

After stage 1 of my analysis, I said I thought it would be (alphabetically) Jante Law, Lebowski & Natural History vs the other half of the field and I've not really changed my mind. I don't have much between the pair on my own numbers, but I do prefer National History to Jante Law based on the stats. The latter is proven at going/trip, has run well in higher grades, has ground speed from good Flat results and has raced recently. Jante Law is up in trip and makes a handicap debut after a layoff and might well need the run.

But what of Lebowski? Well, he's also up in class for a handicap debut and bears top weight, but it's surely his race to win/lose based on his recent form. So, Lebowski and Natural History are my placers here. The market has them at 5/4 and 7/1 best prices and although, they should finish in that order, I don't think those odds are a true reflection of their respective chances, I thought they might have been a little closer to each other.

I can't back Lebowski at 5/4, as I'm not prepared to stake the volume required to make it worth my while, but Natural history does interest me from an E/W or place bet perspective, as does the possible forecast options.

PS as for the Leopardstown race, it's hard to see past A Plus Tard and I certainly wouldn't throw very much money towards Samcro.

Racing Insights, 27th December 2021

Hi everyone, I hope you all had a good Christmas, mine was a very quiet affair, thankfully!

One of the biggest time saving tools on Geegeez Gold is the PACE tab on the cards and this feature is completely free for every single race on both Sundays and Mondays to all registered users, irrespective of whether they pay for the GOLD service or not..

We also have a handful of 'races of the day' where every racecard feature is again available for free to ALL registered users. Those races will be...

  • 12.20 Limerick
  • 12.45 Kempton
  • 2.05 Limerick
  • 2.50 Chepstow
  • 5.40 Wolverhampton

I'm not a big fan of Irish racing and the two UK jumps racing don't appeal (a juvenile hurdle and a 20-runner affair), so we're off to the Black Country for a quick look at the 5.40 Wolverhampton, an 11-runner, Class 5, 3yo+ A/W handicap over 1m6f on the Tapeta and here are the runners...

Top and bottom weights, Winklevi and Percy Willis seem the most consistent of late, but Beat The Breeze and Kinderfrau did both win last time out. Winklevi also benefits from a drop in class here, as does Crimson King, Kitten's Dream and Rushmore.

Crimson King & Dreaming Blue have both won here in the past, whilst Scudamore & Heron have both scored over 1m6f before today. Beat The Breeze and Glan Y Gors have done both by winning over course and distance.

Aside from Glan Y Gors (85 days), Scudamore (134d) and Heron (306d), the rest of the field have all had a recent (within 32 days) run with four of them having raced in the last ten days.

Kinderfrau, Rushmore and Heron are all aged three and get a 5lb weight for age allowance here, which will help their causes and the latter heads the Geegeez SR figures, but he has been off the track for ten months.

On a simple totting up procedure of positives from above, the ones currently in mind would be (alphabetically) Beat The Breeze, Crimson King, Kinderfrau, Rushmore & Winklevi, whilst past relevant form (courtesy of Instant Expert)...

...would appear to favour the likes of Beat The Breeze, Crimson King, Dreaming Blue, Glan Y Gors, Kinderfrau and Scudamore. Our next thing to consider is the draw and past similar races...

...have tended to favour those drawn midway (stall 6) of higher, which could give an advantage to the likes of Crimson King, Glan Y Gors, Kinderfrau, Rushmore, Scudamore & Winklevi, whilst the corresponding pace stats for the same races are as follows...

...showing a clear bias for prominent runners and a distinct disadvantage for those liking to set the pace and if we look at our field's recent efforts...

...you'd probably say that Beat The Breeze, Dreaming Blue, Heron, Scudamore & Winklevi would the ones most likely to score a 3 here.

We can, of course combine those pace and draw stats as follows...

...and we can log pace/draw for our eleven runners...

and when superimposed onto the main pace/draw heat map...

...none of them are really ideally suited, but you'd probably say Scudamore (based of an average of 20.00 & 7.69) shades it here, then possibly Dreaming Blue, Heron and even Beat The Breeze.

 

Summary

I've attempted to show how quickly you can whizz through a card to get a shortlist of runners based on positive showings and the ones I highlighted were...

Racecard : Beat The Breeze, Crimson King, Kinderfrau, Rushmore & Winklevi
Instant Expert : Beat The Breeze, Crimson King, Dreaming Blue, Glan Y Gors, Kinderfrau & Scudamore
Draw : Crimson King, Glan Y Gors, Kinderfrau, Rushmore, Scudamore & Winklevi
Pace : Beat The Breeze, Dreaming Blue, Heron, Scudamore & Winklevi
Pace/Draw : Beat the Breeze, Dreaming Blue, Heron & Scudamore

If I then do a quick totting up, I see that Beat the Breeze has four mentions, as does Scudamore, whilst Crimson King, Dreaming Blue, Kinderfrau and Winklevi all have three and it's from these six that I'd want to draw my 1-2-3, where I'm finding it difficult to get away from Beat The Breeze.

I think Scudamore is going to run this afternoon at 5.20, as he hadn't been withdrawn by 3.30pm, so I'm going to set him aside. Dreaming Blue is a lightly raced sort from a yard best known for its jumpers, he was well beaten here LTO (admittedly after a year off!) but I can only advise a watching brief there. And the other I'm going to discard is Crimson King. I'm almost reluctant to do so with him having made the frame in 11 of 22 on the A/W, but I think Kinderfrau has a good chance of challenging Beat The Breeze for the win and that I have a marginal preference for the consistent Winklevi ahead of Crimson King.

So, my 1-2-3 are...

  • Beat The Breeze, who has won two of his last five, starting with a C&D win here in May and then stayed on well to win over this trip at Southwell earlier this month.
  • Kinderfrau, who took advantage of a dropping handicap mark to win over a similar trip to today when last seen at Chelmsford just over a month ago. back up 6lbs here, though, which might just stop him winning.
  • Winklevi, who has six top three finishes on the bounce and was a runner-up here over course and distance last time out. He's down in class now and should at least make the frame off the same mark.

Sadly, I've not spotted much that the bookies haven't and my trio are best priced at 9/2, 10/3 & 7/1, whilst Scudamore would be an interesting 18/1 E/W bet if he runs here after either not running or running reasonably well on Boxing Day. A poor run would discount him from my thoughts.

Racing Insights, 22nd December 2021

Wednesday is the last day of racing in the UK before Christmas and like every Wednesday, our free GOLD feature is the Trainer Stats (TS) report, which is, in fact, four reports in one. It contains information on a trainer’s recent form, and their longer term course form. For each of 14 day, 30 day, course one year, and course five year, users can filter by runs, wins, places, win profit/loss and each way profit/loss. Clicking on any row in the report will reveal the runners that trainer has entered on the day in question, and clicking on the runner row will open that race in a new tab.

HINT: It can help to cross refer the profit figures of the trainer with their win/place percentage. A few big priced winners can mean a trainer has a high profit number but a low strike rate. You may need to be very patient, and a bit lucky, to come out in front this way!

[As ever, please refer to the very detailed User Guide for further information]

In addition to the daily free GOLD feature, we always have a selection of full free racecards for all readers and for Wednesday, they are...

  • 12.15 Ludlow
  • 2.15 Ludlow
  • 3.55 Southwell
  • 4.30 Southwell

Now, two of our free races and all of my TS report qualifiers are at Southwell on the relatively new (just four meetings) Tapeta surface, so I'm still maintaining a watching brief there. Of the other two free races, I have to admit that Lady Amateur Jockeys' jumps races aren't my thing, so it's almost Hobson's Choice that I sign off for a short break with the 2.15 Ludlow. That said, it looks a decent enough race on paper and I'd expect it to be competitive, which is all you can ask for in this "dead" time before the excesses of Boxing Day.

For the record, it's a 7-runner, Class 3, 4yo+ Handicap Chase over 3m on Good To Soft (Good in places) ground, where they'll go right handed over 19 fences in a bid to earn just over £10k for their connections...

All bar Volcano have a win in their recent form-line with The Newest One and Dublin Four bringing the best results to the table. The former is the only class riser in the field, stepping up one grade from an LTO win 26 days ago, whilst both Smarty Wild and Head To The Stars drop down a level after third place finishes at Class 2. Didero Vallis bears top weight and should find this easier after two Grade 3 runs this season.

Smarty Wild has won here before, Premier D'Troice and The Newest One have both won over this trip, whilst Head To The Stars and Volcano are both former course and distance winners. All have had the benefit of at least one recent run in the last seven weeks and Volcano last ran just six days ago when failing to complete at Exeter.

Didero Vallis won at Catterick on heavy ground back in February and ended last season with a Class 2 runner-up finish at Kelso before taking seven months off. Has finished sixth (40L & 29L defeats) so far this season, but both at Grade 3 and his yard is in great form.

Smarty Wild is a consistent if unspectacular sort who has made the frame in 5 of 8 over fences, but has only managed to win once. Has never gone beyond 2m5½f in any sphere, but tend to be more of a plugger-on than a fast finisher, so 3m might suit. One for the shortlist, but probably not the winner.

Head To The Stars is definitely a hit or miss type and you never known which one will turn up. Two wins and a place from his last seven is tempered by him being pulled up in the other four and this isn't a recent thing with him failing to complete 8 of his last 16 stretching back to April 2018. Unreliable and after two decent runs in his last three is likely to fold again, despite...

Dublin Four only started chasing 13 months ago but has finished 12P33141 since and comes here off the back of a win at Newbury seven weeks ago despite having been off track for 200 days. That was his first start for Fergal O'Brien and he won fairly cosily that day, so he'd be entitled to come on for the run despite a 5lb rise and is a definite player here.

Premier D'Troice was a reasonable enough hurdler (3 wins & 3 places from 12) who won both his first two efforts over fences giving him a handicap mark of 134, some 10lbs higher than his last hurdles win. He has toiled in two handicaps since going down by 19 lengths off 134 and then by 47 lengths off 132 so it's difficult to see a 4lb drop being enough to spark some form here.

Volcano comes from a yard with a decent record in handicap chases over recent years (9/46 = 19.6% for 2019-21) with this horse adding 4 wins from 11 to that number. He had a real purple patch over four months last season finishing 114131, but hasn't got anywhere near those heights this term, failing to complete his last two outings. He's now just 2lbs higher than his last win, but still runs off the same mark as when struggling at Exeter last week, so I doubt he's going to make much impact here.

The Newest One has been in fine form so far this season with two wins and a runner-up finish from three starts, In fairness, all three were modest Class 4 contests and the race last time out was a particularly weak affair, but you can only beat what's in front of you. Up in class and weight (+3lbs), this will be tougher, but he does get weight all round and both his trainer & jockey are both in decent nick.

At this point, I'm leaning towards the form horses, Dublin Four, Smarty Wild & The Newest One. I don't particularly like any of the other four right now, as they'd need significant upturns to win this. let's see if Instant Expert's overview of their form in similar conditions shows them in a better light...

Volcano does look better on that graphic, if truth be told but it's still hard to get a way from how he's running right now. Dublin Four looks good again, as does The Newest One, whilst only Premier D'Troice is back at his last winning mark with the others all 2 to 5 lbs higher.

Since 2014, similar small-field staying handicap chases on good to soft ground here at Ludlow have favoured the front runners with an almost linear decreasing if success the further back a horse is positioned in the field. Probably easiest explained with graphs and numbers, I suppose...

Hold-up horses do have a better than expected place percentage, which suggests they're too far adrift to win but power through late on at the expense of the prominent runners who might tire after chasing the leader(s), but front running is definitely the way forward, which based on this field's recent efforts...

...would appear to suit The Newest One far more than Dublin Four. That said, there's no out and out front runner and the distance from back to front might not be as great as it could be. The fact is that almost half of those 28 runs above have been hold-up efforts, so this might end up being run at a false (slower) pace, which then plays into the hand of those lower down that chart.

Summary

From the outset and then backed up by Instant Expert, I preferred the look of Dublin Four, Smarty Wild & The Newest One and even though they don't all share the same pace profile, you can still make a case for all three on pace, so I'm sticking with this trio as my 1-2-3.

Despite looking like he'll be held up, Dublin Four ticks most boxes for me and he's my preference and whilst I've very little between the other pair, The Newest One is in better form, scored better on IE and gets weight all round, even if he does step up in class here.

I was hoping for around 5/2 about my pick, he's currently 9/4, so I'm not far out there whilst the other pair of possible placers are 10/3 and 5/1 respectively as it would seem that the market agrees with the way I've read it. It doesn't mean we're right, of course, but it's mildly reassuring. The Newest One is a little longer than I expected, balancing out the minor shortfall on Dublin Four, but Smarty Wild's 5/1 price ticket might carry some value.

Racing Insights, 21st December 2021

Tuesday's free feature is The Shortlist, a simple and usually brief report highlighting those horses with a largely ‘green’ profile in the Instant Expert Report each day. It covers win or place stats, and can be viewed for both today’s and tomorrow’s racing.

GREENis good (33% or better win rate) – worth 3 points
AMBER is quite good (16-32% win rate) – worth 1 point
RED is not so good (0-15% win rate) – worth -1 points
GREY means there is no available data for that factor - worth 0 points

The final column, ‘Score’, is the sum of the previous five ‘colour’ columns, with 15 being an all green profile, and 9 being the lowest score appearing on this report.

HINT: The best bets are not necessarily the highest scores. Rather, they are often the biggest difference between a Shortlist horse and the ‘best of the rest’ in that race.

N.B. Shortlist selections are unlikely to make a profit, at SP at least, to blind backing. Our recommendation is – and has always been – that The Shortlist should be a starting point rather than an end in itself. That said, it continues to highlight horses whose chance is better than recent form - and its odds - imply.

[Please refer to our User Guide for further information]

This is Tuesday's Shortlist...

...and we complement that offering with the following free races...

  • 12.30 Ayr
  • 2.25 Newcastle
  • 5.00 Newcastle

Racing is generally pretty poor at this time of year, but despite being a small-field, low grade affair, the middle of those three 'free' races does at least look a competitive one, so let's take aim at the 2.25 Newcastle, a 6-runner, Class 5, 3yo+ A/W Handicap over a left-handed 1m4½f on Standard To Slow Tapeta, which is worth £3,240 to one of the following...

Lopes Dancer comes here after winning two of his last five starts and now drops in class after finishing 6th of 8 (beaten by 17 lengths) at Wolverhampton 26 days ago. He has also been eased 2lbs by the assessor ahead of a return to a venue where he has won 4 times and placed 4 times from 13 efforts over course and distance. Newcastle is certainly his favourite track, this is his preferred distance and he's a confirmed Class 5 runner. His jockey is in great form right now, but the horse's recent form is a worry.

Major Snugfit is another former course and distance winner and he has been in tremendous form over the last five months, winning five times and being a runner-up three times from ten outings, but it has to be pointed out that his overall record at this venue isn't good at just 1 win and 1 further places from 11 visits. Stat-wise, in his favour, the trip is ideal for him, he gerts on with his jockey well, 8-30 days since his last run is his optimum, as are the visor and the tongue tie, but his best form is at class 6 and generally away from Newcastle. That said, his yard & rider are both in decent form and the yard does well in staying contests.

Raiff opened his account in the final of three bumpers, after two pretty poor earlier events. Since then he's not managed to make the frame in five efforts on the A/W, although he was only beaten by just over half a length in a 1m2f handicap at this track 18 days ago. He goes again off the same mark and results/form suggest he'll need to improve to win this. In his favour, though, he does drop in class here and his jockey has been riding well enough of late.

Can Can Girl is one of two fillies (both 3yo's) getting a 4lb weight allowance allowing her to effectively run off a mark of 63, which is a bonus to another former course and distance winner who arrives here in great form having made the frame in five (inc 1 win) of her last six starts, although it should be pointed out that this is tougher than her more recent races. She's actually up in class from a 4.5 length defeat at Wolverhampton just three days ago, so that does suggest improvement would be needed here, although her yard has a reasonable enough record here of late, does well with stayers and has a terrific record with those turned back out quickly.

Battle Of Wills is easily the most out-of-form of the six runners here, having lost his last thirteen races over the past 23 months. He has, in fairness, won here over a mile at Newcastle but that was 3yrs and 2 days ago and his overall record here reads 515874. He was 7th of 10 here two visits ago, but came home last in the other three runs oin this track since that win in December 2018. His yard is in reasonable enough form, but the horse is so much on the slide that he now runs off a mark some 20lbs lower than his last handicap win (Ripon : July 2019)

Nastasiya carries bottom weight here and as the other filly in the race, benefits from a 4lb weight allowance. Her yard has a respectable 5yr record at this track and the string have benefited from the booking of today's jockey in recent months. The filly herself is an 11-race maiden, but was only beaten by just over a length when third of seven here over an extended 2m ten days ago. She has gone well over much shorter trips than today, so the half-mile drop back here might not be as much of an inconvenience as you'd think and she certainly got plenty of stamina as demonstrated in recent runs over hurdles.

That's a general overview of the runners, but I'm not sure whether any of them have excelled under the conditions they're likely to face here today. Thankfully, I don't have to guess, because Instant Expert has all the answers...

The place stats tells us quite a bot more than the win only ones do and I think Lopes Dancer probably comes out on top here, although Can Can Girl's ability to make the frame at similar trips to today is excellent. Battle of Wills is on a really low mark, but is bang out of form, Nastasiya's numbers are based off small sample sizes, so might not be that reliable (as 1 win could change everything). Raiff is another inexperienced under these conditions, whilst Major Snugfit is definitely suited by class/distance here.

From a draw perspective, there's not a great deal in it...

...but stalls 2 to 5 would appear to have slight edge, which isn't the best news for low/high drawn Can Can Girl and Major Snugfit, but I suspect race tactics will play a more important role than the draw does over such a long trip...

Leaders have fared abjectly and setting the pace needs to be avoided here. Hold up horses win approximately 5 times from every 6 expected wins, so that's not disastrous, whilst both mid-division and prominent runners have fared best, particularly the latter. I suppose the ideal situation here is to sit patiently just off the leader(s) and pick them off late on and the way our six runners have tackled races of late...

...you'd have to say that Major Snugfit looks the most inconvenienced by his usual running style. He also doesn't have the best of the draw so he's really going to have to go some to land this. That said, he is in really good form right now.

Summary

I'm not a fan of backing maidens who've lost double digits amounts of races, so I can't be backing Nastasiya here, nor from a form perspective can I consider Battle of Wills. Raiff is also struggling and was beaten off today's mark last time out, so that suggests he's not winning this and I've quickly got rid of half of the field.

Despite the pace/draw having Major Snugfit at a disadvantage, I believe he's the one to beat here, as do the bookies who've installed him as an 11/4 favourite, which is probably a fair price. As for Lopes Dancer & Can Can Girl, I don't have much separating them on my figures and both could quite easily make the frame, but at odds of 8/1 (good for an E/W bet, too) Lopes Dancer holds a little more appeal than Can Can Girl at a miserly 3/1 or even lower.

 

Racing Insights, 20th December 2021

I’m filling in for Chris for Monday’s column. He’ll be back with Tuesday’s write up.

The Free Feature of the Day on Monday is the pace tab for all races. Arguably the biggest time saving tool of all on Geegeez Gold and it’s completely free for every single race on both Sundays and Mondays to free registered users..

There are also three races of the day where all racecard features are available for free, again to registered users. These fee races on Monday are:

2.15 Musselburgh
4.30 Wolverhampton
6.30 Wolverhampton

I’m more interested in the offerings at Wolverhampton and since the 4.30 is a 2yo Novice race it’s a pretty easy decision to concentrate on the handicap scheduled two hours later, run over the extended mile. 

This is a 9 runner, class 5 race with a likely short priced favourite so we’ll at least have the option of finding a decent each way with at least two extra places up for grabs, even if the favourite does justify his odds.

First of all let’s look at potential pace biases for this race.

The pace data seems to slightly favour those that race prominently with that run style producing the best win and place percentages but it is only narrowly favoured over mid division. There is then a slight drop off to both front runners and held up which are both closely matched, proving that extreme run styles here are not ideal but neither are they hugely disadvantaged. All things being equal we probably want to favour something that races prominently to mid division here.

Looking at the predicted pace for this race in the pace map, we could see two runners contest the early speed. Those runners are Canagat and One Last Dance. If they do end up cutting each other’s throats then that could definitely help mid division over prominent but there is no evidence that this will be an overly strong pace, more so we should see a solid pace.

Only 9 runners in this so we shouldn’t make too much of the draw but it’s still worth taking into account.

It does seem that in a field of this size there isn’t much of a draw bias. The highest individual stall PRB is 0.53 and the lowest is 0.46 and the other seven stalls are between 0.51 and 0.47 so the draw shouldn’t play too much of a part. There would be a slight preference for being drawn lower than higher though, however stall 1 isn’t seemingly advantaged at all here.

It’s extremely difficult to make a case for Moving For Gold, Star Of St James or Forbearing so I’m not going to go into detail on that trio. Star Of St James does have a tendency to improve for a run so he may come on for his last effort after 211 days off but he was in poor form before the break too so it’s difficult to suggest he’ll be involved.

So is this favourite the most likely winner of the race? Umm Hurair seemed to appreciate the drop to this trip last time out on handicap debut when accounting for ten other runners comfortably. The 4th has come out and got slightly closely to winning but there is little to suggest at this stage how strong that form really was. Visually he was pretty impressive and he’s very lightly raced so a 7lb rise could be unlikely to stop him - he certainly looks the most likely winner here but whether you’d want to get involved at the odds I’m not so sure.

If we’re not backing Umm Hurair that then leaves us with five possible choices for an each way wager. 

Bearwith has been in good form recently, finishing in the places on his last five starts. His only career win was a 7 length victory over course and distance (now 11lbs higher) and since then he’s finished 2nd and 3rd over a mile at Kempton. His latest 3rd was decent enough form with the winner placing since and the runner up winning next time out. He looks almost certain to be in the places but he might not be a big enough price to back each way.

One Last Dance was well backed last time out stepped up to 11f at Southwell but he failed to give his running, beaten before stamina came into play. Prior to that he had finished runner up three starts in a row and it’s worth noting that two of the runners that beat him won again next time out and the other one finished 2nd on his next start. That means he shouldn’t be judged too harshly for failing to get the job done and that was pretty warm form in all those races too. He does have to bounce back to form here and he’s running over the shortest trip he’s faced in over a year but perhaps an aggressive ride over this trip is what he needs. A few question marks but capable of running well.

Canagat hadn’t really shown much on the track in almost 18 months before a 3rd place last time out at Southwell. He was still beaten 4.5 lengths and although he may build on that, he has dropped 21lbs in the handicap this year after all, he’s probably just as likely to go the other way so he’s not one you could back with much confidence.

First Lott hasn’t looked particularly well handicapped in recent starts and he now tries a new trip to try and find some improvement. He shapes as though he might stay but equally he shapes as though he’s simply averagely treated at his optimum trip. Meanwhile Never Said Nothing was 6 lengths behind the favourite here last time out and is now 8lbs better off. Before that he was 4 lengths behind Bearwith at Kempton and he’s only 1lb better off with that rival here so it’s difficult to see him getting close to either Umm Hurair or Bearwith in this. 

Summary

Unfortunately the early betting has this race spot on. Umm Hurair looks the most likely winner, Bearwith is probably the one most likely to follow him home and One Last Dance, although with something to prove, looks the best of the rest.

The only bets at backable prices I could really find for this would be Umm Harair to beat Bearwith in a straight forecast with One Last Dance possibly worth including as the 3rd place option in a small tricast. Had he come here without that blip at Southwell last time out he’d have been a much more confident call to finish in the places and that money for him last time out suggests he is still well treated, as do the horses he was finishing behind in his previous starts. He’s perhaps one to note with a view to backing after this if he runs well in defeat again.

Racing Insights, 18th December 2021

Saturday's free GOLD feature is the rather splendid Trainer/Jockey Combo (TJC) report, bringing together the form of trainers and jockeys into a single composite report has produced excellent results for users. Basically, some trainers will tend to turn to specific riders when they have one ‘ready to win’. This report quickly identifies the most profitable combinations. Clicking on any row will reveal the entries for that trainer/jockey pairing. And clicking on the entry will open the race in a new tab.

HINT: Look for a good sample size – ideally five or more – combined with a decent win percentage (30%+), and a positive figure in the profit column.

[ Please refer to our User Guide for further information ]

In addition to opening up this report, we also have our usual daily selection of free races, which consists of...

  • 11.40 Lingfield
  • 12.35 Navan
  • 12.50 Lingfield
  • 1.50 Ascot
  • 3.35 Ascot

As is often the case, my fairly stringent settings for the TJC report mean that I don't have a plethora of qualifiers, but my 5yr course handicap filter has two possibles, one of which runs in one of our free races...

...so it makes perfect sense (to me, anyway) to take a look at the 1.50 Ascot, an 11-runner, Class 2, 4yo+ Handicap Chase over 2m3f on Good To Soft ground. Our runners will go right handed to tackle 16 fences in a bid to win £13,008...

Of the eleven, only Dolos, Slate House and Guy are winless in their last few races, although the latter has hit the crossbar several times and Slate House looks the weakest on results alone. He's one of seven runners stepping up in class here with only Dolos, Diego du Charmil, Sully D'Oc AA and Guy having raced at this Class 2 level last time out.

The top three on the card (Dolos, Diego du Charmil & Sully D'Oc AA) have all won here before with Diego the only one of the three without a couse and distance win. Four others (Knight In Dubai, Palmers Hill, Slate House & Golden Whisky) however, have won at this trip in the past.

Financier hasn't been seen since winning at Hereford just over nine months ago, but his ten rivals have all had the benefit of a run in the past six weeks and Financier's layoff is a concern for me, as is the form of Dolos, Ornua and Slate House (especially with the latter pair stepping up in class).

In fact I'm going to be quite brutal here and omit those four from the equation right now, as we assess relevant form via Instant Expert...

It's good to see that all seven have some green on display, but the lack of Class 2 chasing success is the eyecatching stat for me, however closer inspection shows that both Diego & Sully have made the frame once at this level, whilst Guy has placed on both of his C2 outings. In fact, it probably makes sense to look at the overall Instant Expert picture from a place perspective...

...where Guy now looks very strong for making the frame, but the 17lb weight hike since his last win might be more than enough to stop him getting home first, whereas both Diego & Knight in Dubai run off marks lower than their own last wins. With regards to class, I should probably add that Diego has 2 wins and a place from 8 Class 1 runs, whilst Sully's C1 record has a win and a place from four efforts, so I'm now less concerned about their ability to run well at this level.

The final piece of the jigsaw from a Geegeez toolkit perspective is to look at how the race might be run and based off their most recent outings...

...I'd expect the pace to be set by the likes of Golden Whisky and Ornua. Palmers Hill is likely to run in mid-division with Dolos & Sully probably separating him from the leaders. Slate House's tactics are unclear, but Diego looks like he'll sit between Palmers Hill and the four (IMO) confirmed hold-up types, Knight In Dubai, Financier, Guy and Zhiguli.

But what's the best approach, Chris?

Well, our pace analyser says...

...which would seem to favour the likes of Sully D'Oc AA, Palmers Hill and Diego du Charmil from the seven I took to Instant Expert.

Summary

Of the seven runners I quickly narrowed the field down to, the ones catching the eye were...

Form : Palmers Hill & Guy
Instant Expert : Palmers Hill, Guy, Diego du Charmil and Sully D'Oc AA
Pace : Sully D'Oc AA, Palmers Hill and Diego du Charmil

Which essentially gives me four candidates with Palmers Hill ticking all the boxes. He's unsurprisingly the early bookies favourite (as of 4.15pm) and his odds of 7/2 are pretty much what I expected and I'll have a piece of that.

Of the other three, there's probably not much between them, but I have a sneaking suspicion that Guy's recent pair of Class 2 runner-up finishes will give him a slight edge, so he'd be my next best. He's available at 11/2, which is probably about right, but not long enough for me to go each way. Many bookies are actually paying four places here and my two remaining runners, Diego du Charmil and Sully D'Oc AA are both priced at playable E/W odds at 9/1 and 8/1 respectively and at four places, I'd be happy to have a wee punt on both.

I find/found it tough to separate the pair though, but with Diego now down in weight and having more Ascot experience, I'd probably side with him for third if pushed, but either could finish in the top three.

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