Racing Insights, 28th June 2021

Late start tonight, sorry, had a family 'event' to attend, but hopefully better late than never and I'll try to get to the point a little quicker. Monday's free feature is open access to the pace tab for all readers for all races, including the following races of the day...

  • 1.30 Southwell
  • 6.45 Musselburgh
  • 7.00 Windsor
  • 7.45 Musellburgh

...and as we've been concentrating mainly on Flat/AW racing recently, let's look at the first of those races, the 1.30 Southwell, a 7-runner Class 4, 5yo+ Handicap Chase over 3m1f on Good ground worth £3,594...

Boughtbeforelunch has six top 3 finishes from his last seven runs and won by 8.5 lengths at Ludlow two starts ago. That earned him a 7lb rise in the weights, yet he was still able to finish as a runner-up at Aintree LTO. Down in class off the same mark here at a track where he's 1 from 1, he has to be in considerations.

Dancing In The Sky was a winner over 2m4.5f at Perth last September, but has been beaten by 51L, 23L and 41L in three runs since. He's down in class from that last run but as well as being out of form, has yet to prove he gets this trip.

Fact Of The Matter last won was 8 starts ago off a mark (135), some 18lbs higher than today, but that was actually back in mid-December 2018 and despite a recently plummeting mark, he has failed to get close since. He has only raced three times since the end of 2019 and it's probably time he was retired.

Lygon Rock has won just once in twenty attempts and that was in a 4-runner novice hurdle more than three years ago and he has made the frame just three times in thirteen races since. He hasn't raced since mid-January when beaten by 31 lengths and will probably need a run. Best avoided.

Compadre tends to run well and give every race his best shot, but he's not really a stayer. He weakens out of it late on in too many of his races for anyone to be confident and backing him to finish strongly. This is a shame to be honest, because he clearly has ability having won off a higher mark than today. For me, he's a low-110's 2m6f chaser and this should be too tough for him.

Tribesmans Glory was 0 from 5 including 4 heavy defeats (69L, 38L, 46L & 21L) before winning a class 5 novice handicap on his chasing bow last October. he's also a former PTP winner, but hasn't really kicked on since that first win under Rules and has unseated his rider in two of the four races since. Big step up in trip here too.

The Composeur is also a former PTP winner and has two wins and two runner-up finishes from six handicap hurdle efforts prior to a chasing debut at Warwick just under five weeks ago over a trip just half a furlong shorter than today. He was admittedly just fourth of seven, but a 9 length defeat over that trip on debut is far from a disgrace. He had two good results at 3m/3m0.5f over hurdles, so the trip should be fine and he'd be entitled to come on for that run last month.

At this point, based on the above, Fact Of The Matter & Lygon Rock look the weakest.

*

All previous NH form under today's conditions...

...and just over fences...

Lygon Rock looks weak again here and I'm not keen on Tribesmans Glory from those figures either, especially at 12lbs higher than his last win. Boughtbeforelunch, Dancing In The Sky and Compadre all have weight to make up, but don't read too much into Fact Of The Matter being 18lbs lower. We covered that above and it was so long ago! Compadre's four Class wins is decent, though.

*

The pace stats tell us leaders do best, pretty much at the expense of mid-division horses and with prominent / hold-ups having IVs of 0.97 and 0.98, they're virtually running/winning as many as expected. Leading isn't the be all and end all here, but just don't get stuck in mid-div! Prominent runners have a good place record, so I'd say that made prominent running the second best option after leading. It seems almost strange to say you're more likely to win a 3m1f chase from the front, but the numbers don't lie.

For the record, here's how these seven runners normally race...

Boughtbeforelunch and Fact Of The Matter have both set the pace in at least one of their last four races, so I expect those two to take the race forward here.
Dancing In the Sky and The Composeur are both solid 3's (prominent) more often than not, so they're likely to take second rank here.
Compadre and Tribesmans Glory are definite 1's, having been held up in each of their last four outings, so they'll take the fourth rank, leaving Lygon Rock as the mid-division horse, hammering another nail into the coffin of his chances.

Summary

From the write-up stage, I didn't like Fact Of The Matter & Lygon Rock and then I added Tribesmans Glory to that pair after Instant Expert. Lygons Rock was a negative again on pace, so all three are discounted at the first fence, so to speak.

That still leaves me with four, so I'll take a pair and reject a pair and the duo I'm taking are Boughtbeforelunch and The Composeur. Of the pair I'm getting rid of, I think Compadre is marginally better than Dancing In The Sky, but I have doubts about either staying the trip.

As for a winner, well I think there's very little to separate Boughtbeforelunch off his current mark and The Composeur based on his chase debut. The former has more experience, of course, but might have too much weight to carry, whilst the former isn't guaranteed to improver, although you'd expect him to, especially off a mark 2lbs lower than LTO.

To me The Composeur offers more value at 9/2 (Bet365) than Boughtbeforelunch does at 9/4 (generally), so although I think these will be the first two home, I hope it's the longer-priced one that wins!

 

Racing Insights, 26th June 2021

My last piece of the week, not sure where the days are going right now! We're assisted by free access to the excellent Trainer/Jockey Combo report, whilst our free 'races of the day' are scheduled to be...

  • 1.00 Newmarket
  • 2.55 Newcastle
  • 3.30 Newcastle
  • 3.50 Newmarket
  • 4.40 Newcastle
  • 5.20 Windsor

I don't like having too many runners to sift through from the reports each day, so I do set fairly stringent criteria, but my settings for the Trainer/Jockey Combo report throws up one possible from the 5 yr handicap figures who also runs in one of our free races, so it makes sense to look at the 3.50 Newmarket, which features...

The race itself is a 9-runner, Class 3, Flat Handicap for 3yo+ fillies over a mile and a half on Good to Firm ground. It's worth £6,210 to the winner, who will be one of the following...

We'll look a little more closely at the Appleby/Doyle combo a little later when I do the horse profiles, but we'll run through the card first, where only Carnival Craft is without a recent win and By Starlight, Quenelle D'Or, Sayyida and Franklet all won last time out.

Only Almareekh ran at this level last time out with the other eight all stepping up in class. Quenelle D'Or is having her second try at handicap racing, whilst Sayyida, Franklet & Carnival Craft are all on handicap debut with the latter the only runner here not to have raced in the last seven weeks, having been absent for almost six months now and has also moved yards during her layoff.

The bottom five on the card are all three year olds and get a massive 14lbs allowance from the 4 yrs olds, meaning that bottom weight now carries a huge 22lbs less than top weight, despite the official ratings having them just 8lbs apart.

Almareekh is highest rated at 86 and carries top weight of 10 stones here and she won three times on the spin last July/August, the last being at this class/trip off a mark of 81. She was sixth of seven at a lower grade last time out, looking like she needed the run and at 5lbs higher than her last win, others appeal more, although...

End Result also steps up in class here and this progressive-looking runner won a heavy-ground handicap at Newbury over 1m2f in October. Has ran respectably in two third place finishes this season so far, but that result off this mark in a Class 4 doesn't suggests she wins a Class 3 now.

By Starlight was a winner over this trip just 22 days ago when last seen getting home by 1.25 lengths at Goodwood. Up to classes and 5lbs makes this much more difficult, of course, but she could only beat what was in front of her and she'd something in hand at the close. That said, she'd not be one I'd expect to win this, although...

Lady Pendragon ended her 2020 campaign with back to back Class 5 handicap wins over 1m2f at Lingfield on the A/W before taking a 145-day rest. She then returned at Windsor almost seen weeks ago to run a very creditable third of seven over 1m3½f, but still at Class 5. Up two grades off the same mark makes this tough, considering she was 5 lengths adrift LTO, but in Hayley Turner, she does have a jockey who won't give up...

Quenelle D'Or has raced just five times so far and was the runner-up in each of her 2yo efforts, only beaten by a neck and then by a head. She returned from a 133-day absence to win over 1m3f at Kempton and although last home of seven, beaten by 17 lengths, in a Chester Listed race last month, she still went on to win again next/last time out on handicap debut over this trip at Goodwood 22 days ago, some 3.25 lengths ahead of the re-opposing End Result. She's up 5lbs and up in class, but she looks like a filly on the rise and could go well again here for an in-form partnership...

Sayyida is, of course, the horse featured on my Trainer/Jockey Combo report and that's because the Appleby/Doyle/Newmarket handicaps data was so strong. You've got the overall 5yr record above, but on the July course since the start of the 2017 season, the pair have teamed up 10 times, making the frame on 7 occasions and going on to win five (50% SR, A/E 2.27) times. And of those ten runs, they are...

  • 4/7 on good to firm
  • 3/6 with 3yo runners
  • 2/2 at Class 3
  • 1/1 with females

They've not featured in June or over this trip, but the numbers above are strong and the horse herself now makes a handicap debut at Class 3 after winning a Class 4 novice event quite comfortably at Nottingham six weeks ago. However, despite the third placed horse from that just about scraping home in a Class 5 maiden, the form hasn't really worked out with four others having reappeared at Class4 and none made the frame. That's not to say Sayyida isn't any good, but caution is required with these inexperienced fillies.

Franklet is, as the name gives away, a daughter of the great Frankel and although she never raced as a 2yo, has progressed quickly this year, as her 321 form line would suggest. She's up in class for her handicap debut off a not too onerous mark of 80 after winning over this trip 18 days ago, staying on well and looking like she'd plenty in reserve (wonder where she gets that from?). Everyone knows about the Gosden team's record here at HQ, so I won't bore you with the details, but there are some other interesting stats at play here...

Something Enticing has been kept busy with seven runs under her belt since the start of December and after the novice outings, won her first two starts in handicap company taking her mark from 67 to 77 and she has found life a little tougher since, finishing second and third off 77 and 78 respectively. She ran well enough LTO to be fair and was only beaten by a neck and a head here on this track over 1m2f on Good to Soft ground 8 days ago. Improvement is needed here though, as she's now up in trip/class/weight, but she is running consistently well.

Carnival Craft completes the line-up and she's carrying practically no weight at all (8-6 off a mark of 78). She was a half-length runner-up in a poor novice race at Wolverhampton over this trip, but two classes lower in early January and that was the last time she was seen. Now coming back from 175 days off the track, up in class, on handicap debut and having changed yards, A watching brief or total avoidance is my advice here, but credit given where it's due, jockey Nicola Currie is no mug...

Hopefully that gives you an overview of each runner's career to date, but the form under today's conditions is easiest highlighted by our Instant Expert colour coded chart...

I opened the class parameters to include Class 4 form, as only Almareekh, End Result, Quenelle D'Or and Something Enticing had raced at this level before. All had just the one start and none of them won, although End Result & Quenelle D'Or did make the frame. Based on the above allied to the write-ups, By Starlight and Carnival Craft are ones I'd remove from my list of possibles here.

The Draw Stats...

And for pace...

Leaders do pretty well with an IV of 1.24, but those sitting back off the pace (but not too far off!) have done best with mid-div runners having an IV of 1.81, suggesting they're winning almost twice as often as you'd expect, mainly at the expense of the prominent runners doing too much too soon on this fast strip.

Pace/Draw is obviously the combination of that data above and like Instant Expert gives a really quick overview on how you can win or lose a race by the way it is run...

...and working on the "Green is Good" assumption, the suggestion here is that you can pretty much win from anywhere, but low drawn prominent runners have really struggled, winning just once from 40 attempts! We know the draw for this race already and our behind the scenes work logs the running style of every horse in every race and we can then produce our own version of that heatmap tailored towards this race in draw order, as follows...

Quenelle D'Or is an out and out pacesetter and if applying those tactics here, could well have the run of the race. Jockey Oisin Murphy is an excellent judge of pace and if allowed to dictate, they might be difficult catch. TJ Combo horse Sayyida looks well placed on the heatmap despite the wide draw. Almareekh was closer to the lead for her three wins and she might well revert to that tactic here and By Starlight has also been know to try and kick on.

I suspect they'll not want Quenelle to have all her own way and we could have three going for it early with stalls 2,3 and 9 forming the mid division with 4, 7 & 8 bringing up the rear.

Summary

Each section of my analysis leaves a number of runners with questions to answer and none of these nine have stood out overall. Sayyida was the feature horse, but this is far tougher than her last effort and she's not a gimme on her opening mark. Her last race was a poor one and I'm not sure she'll make the frame here. She's clearly entitled to could easily prove me wrong, but I like Franklet, Quenelle D'Or and Something Enticing more than I like her for this one.

Of the three I'm going with, I'd say Franklet edges it overall. She's progressive, has excellent breeding and looks well treated off 80 for her handicap debut. 7/2 about her is fair, but not generous and I'll have a nibble at that in the hope she can catch and pass Quenelle D'Or, who is currently a 5/1 shot with my third choice trading at 11/2.

Sayyida is the 11/4 fav right now, so there's no E/W ount today, sorry.

 

Racing Insights, 25th June 2021

Friday's free feature is the Horses For Courses (H4C) report, which shows the full course history since 2009 of any horse running that has previously had a run at the track, whilst our free races of the day will be...

  • 5.15 Newmarket
  • 5.30 Curragh
  • 5.55 Chester
  • 6.45 Newcastle
  • 8.45 Chester
  • 8.55 Newcastle

I've a couple of interesting qualifiers from my settings on the Horses For Courses (H4C) report...

...but I think they're both up against it and they're in pretty big fields too, so I'm off to the Roodee for the 8.45 Chester, a very competitive-looking 6-runner, 3yo Class 4 handicap over 1m2½f on Good ground and these are the runners seeking to land the £4,347 prize...

I've actually seen an opening show for this race and my thoughts about it being competitive seem to be shared by the bookies with five of them priced from 3/1 to 9/2 with a 7/1 outsider. Of the six, only Fairmac is winless in his last five runs, but has placed four times, so he's hardly out of sorts. Solent Getaway, Coul Kat and Rival all won last time out and the latter is tackling a handicap for just the second time, as is Qaasid.

Bottom weight and bottom SR-rated Corbulo steps up from Class 5 here, whilst Solent Getaway now drops two grades despite winning least time out, which is interesting. All six have raced in the past month, but only Fairmac (7 days) has rested for less than 20 days. The only previous course winner here is Rival, who won over track and trip last time out, whilst Corbulo has also won over this unusual trip at Doncaster and Solent Gateway was a winner over 1m2f.

We've some big-name trainers here who have fared well on this tight turning track and a couple of course specialist jockeys and whilst we've not many runners and it's a low-ish grade contest, this could well turn out to be a great race. I won't rule any out on what the racecard tells me, but I'm wary of Corbulo stepping up in class for a yard shy of form, but let's hang fire with a decision for now whilst we have a quick look at the runners starting with...

Rival, who stepped up in trip to land a course and distance win on his handicap debut here almost four weeks ago, making all from the same stall 4 that he occupies today. This race looks more competitive, albeit in the same grade and a 6lb weight rise might just be enough to anchor him here.

Qaasid made steady progress as a 2yo finishing 7th (beaten by 12L), 3rd (bt by7L) then winning by a length over a mile. He was then off track for 30 weeks before returning to go down by six lengths at Nottingham earlier this month. He's up in trip by a quarter mile here off the same mark and I think he'll need at least another run before being of interest.

Solent Gateway is a pretty consistent sort, who has made the frame in half of his ten runs to date, but it took until that last run to finally win. That said, it was an impressive performance to land a Class 2 handicap on Derby Day and although he had to dig deep to win by a nose off a mark of 78, his rivals were rated from 79 to 94. He's up 4lbs here, but down two classes and he looked game at Epsom and could well improve for that experience.

Coul Kat is even more consistent than the one above. Sixth in a pair of sprint maidens to open his career, he has since only failed to in the first two home in one of eight handicap outings, winning three times with four runner-up prizes, all at 8/8.5f. He's up in trip (+2f) and weight (+4lbs) but is in prime form and I'd expect him to run well once again.

Fairmac won a 7.5f Novice contest at Ayr last September to earn a handicap mark of 79, which proved to be just beyond him. He suffered a string of not-disgraced defeats off marks of 76 to 78, but ran his best race to date last time out when only beaten by a short head over 1m2f at Redcar and it could be argued that had it been over today's trip he'd have won. That was only a week ago so you have to take fitness on trust, but he could be dangerous here off the same mark.

Corbulo has progressed nicely as a 3yo handicapper after a disappointing campaign last year when he never got closer than 11 lengths to a winner in three attempts. He has two wins and two places from four this season, though and has looked much more at home. A 6lb rise in weight slowed him down last time out and he goes off the same mark today, although he is reunited with Georgean Buckell who'll take 3lbs off and the pair have finished 121 in three starts together. My concerns here that he's up in class from a 3 length defeat and he'd probably want quicker ground.

ALL flat form courtesy of Instant Expert...

Interesting to see only Coul Kat has won on good ground, but we've three previous class winners (plus Solent won at C2 LTO). I referred to course/distance successes earlier in the piece and although I don't normally comment much on field sizes, races of 6 or fewer runners (and 14+ ones) are more interesting, because they're often run in a different manner to 7-12 or so runner contests. Tactics seem to be more pronounced in small or large fields and three of this field have won similar races.

Now for Flat handicap records...

If anything they make the ones who stood out on the first image look better when only considering handicap data, but with the obvious caveat that we're talking about really small and possibly unreliable sample sizes and I wouldn't rule any of them out even at this stage after the card view, the brief resumé or Instant Expert, so we need more info to guide us, starting with the draw.

There's an old adage that at Chester you need to be drawn low and get out quick if you want to win and over this trip in recent times, a low draw has been a good place to be...

...but not the be all and end all. Stall 5 fares better than stall 2 and those drawn in 4 (Rival today and also when winning LTO) have done best of all and if we combine the scores for 6 & &, they're better than box 2 from a percentage basis. Maybe the takeaway should be don't get stall 2 (Qaasid), but that would be a bit absurd.

As for pace/race positioning, the old tale is almost right, but you don't need to lead to win, but you really could do with being up with the pace, hanging back is not an option. Leaders hit the places in half of their races, so from that perspective, I'd say that's where I'd want my runner to be...

Unsurprisingly as a result of the above sets of data , the pace/draw heatmap is heavily biased to the bottom/right of the graphic

The most interesting of the 12 sectors above for me is the prominent runners from a middle draw at 28%, because with 25 of the overall 155 runners, it's easily the most favoured place to be and has proven successful. That said, I'd be happy with any horse in the green areas so let's see how today's runners' recent efforts place themselves on that heatmap...

All the early pace in the race seems to be away from the lowest drawn runners and I'm happy to now discard both Corbulo and Qaasid, not just because of that last image, but also because they were 4th and 6th on my own ratings. That then leaves me with four and needing to drop one more before I try to get the 1-2-3 and it's at this point that Rival leaves us. To be honest, there's probably very little between these four, but Rival didn't have much in hand last time out and is up 6lbs here.

Summary

I've ended up with Coul Kat, Fairmac and Solent Gateway as my final three and I've got Fairmac as the weaker of the trio, but you could probably toss a coin between the other two as to who would be my pick.

Solent Gateway will have to make ground up on the leaders and he's up 4lbs, but did gamely win a far better race last time out. Coul Kat has the advantage of being able to control the race from the front but although he has been ultra-consistent at trips of around a mile, he's up 4lbs and 2 furlongs here. The Dascombe / Kingscote team are only based just down the road and I think their boy Solent Gateway just edges it for me here.

The bookies disagree with me, but they're not always right and they have my pair at 5/1 and 9/2 respectively. Fingers crossed!

Racing Insights, 24th June 2021

Thursday is Instant Expert day, where we open up our unique relevant form tool to ALL readers for ALL races including, of course, the following free 'races of the day'...

  • 2.00 Newcastle
  • 4.10 Newmarket
  • 5.30 Newcastle
  • 8.15 Leicester

The race at HQ looks the best of the quartet, so today's focus falls upon the 4.10 Newmarket, an 11-runner, Class 2, 3yo+ Flat handicap over 7f on Good ground. Top prize is £10,800 and these are the horses trying to land it...

Slightly different approach today, but hopefully arriving at a satisfactory conclusion. I'm going to use the card and toolbox to quickly eliminate runners from my consideration, leaving me a hopefully short list of horses to choose from. There is, of course, always the danger of discarding the winner at an early stage and the equally possible prospect of me not liking any of them!

Just looking at the card, I'm immediately going to discard three of the bottom four runners, starting with No Nonsense, who throws the occasional good run in, but comes here after finishing 12th of 14 two classes lower than this and his last 2.5 seasons don't suggest that he's up to much.

Also coming here after finishing well down the field last time out is Shark Two One, who hasn't reproduced his form as a juvenile and also steps up in trip...

And the third discard is going to be Sun Power, who like No Nonsense above, steps up two classes after a poor run LTO, he's 0 from 9 on the Flat and is running for his third trainer in ten months and has only had a couple of decent runs in the last year...

Once I remove those from my thoughts, my card looks like this...

You can remove any runner from the card by clicking the X icon. I've got a mild reservation over Albadri's 113 day layoff, but I'll let that slide for now, whilst I look at Instant Expert, our feature of the day...

Ametist is the standout horse here and I wouldn't be surprised if he isn't a fairly warm favourite, so it might serve us well to look at the place stats, both for general form...

and more specifically in Flat Handicaps...

Albadri's general record is modest, albeit at mainly higher levels than this. His only handicap run was a win on the A/W at Class 3, but has been well beaten twice since, so he's out of contention for me here too and Keyser Soze will also depart at this point. His record at Class 2 is pretty poor and whilst he has proven he gets 7f, he's not good enough for me off his current mark and would need to go back down to Class 3.

All of which leaves me with the following in draw order (as that's where we're heading next!)...

So, we've runners in stalls 1, 3, 4, 7, 9 and 10 and the draw stats don't actually suggest too much of a bias from a win point of view...

...but a low draw is definitely beneficial for place purposes. As for pace, there's a definite pattern forming...

The IV figures are the easiest way to make a deduction with 1.00 being par or what you'd expect. Leaders win significantly more often and have the best place stats. Hold-up horses are next best on both sets of figures with those caught between the two faring worst. We can combine draw and pace together to show what has worked best here in the past...

And when we overlay our six remaining contenders onto those heatmaps, they look like this...

From the two charts there (win on the left, place on the right), the two least likely to succeed are Fox Champion and Equiano Springs, so I'll remove them from my list now. This now takes us down to a final four without even looking at the horses. It's a risky ploy, but you can do the above in your head in less than a minute, enabling you to quickly look at he shortlist you've created before moving to the next race. This is handy when there's plenty of racing on.

In fact, based on the above, I'm going to put Dulas as fourth place or first reserve if one of my top three pull out.

Summary

We've very quickly got ourselves three against the field, we'll have a quick look at them and then decide whether to play or fold.

Ametist is 3111 in his short career so far and that simple look at his form explains why he'll be popular with punters, but closer inspection shows that his first three runs were at Class 5, before landing a Class 3 handicap here at Newmarket last time out. He was sent off at Evens that day off a mark of 87 and just about hung on to win by a nose. He's got the rail draw to help him here, but he's up three pounds and one class for that narrow win and that leaves no margin for error.

Kimifive hasn't won any of his last 20 races stretching back to early May 2019, which doesn't immediately inspire confidence, but he has made the frame several times during that run and only lost last season's Stewards Cup at Goodwood by a head. His form this season is much improved, though, finishing third on both occasions (both C2 hcps) and he's now a pound lower than when losing by less than two lengths LTO.

On A Session toiled on the soft ground at Ascot in the Victoria Cup early last month, but has run well in his other three Class 2 handicap outings this season, making the frame each time. He stumbled at the start last time out and conceded too much ground, but still recovered into the race enough to finish third. He goes off the same mark here, but now has the benefit of the 3lb claim held by the talented and in-form Marco Ghiani and he could well spring a surprise here.

I'm actually pretty happy at taking these three from the eleven we started with, so let's make a decision.

I'm not convinced Ametist wins here, based on how tight his last race was and he's up in class and weight. Two firms are open and he's 5/4 and 13/8 and I really don't want to know at that price. I don't think Kimifive wins here either, he seems to have forgotten how to. He looks a solid placer to me, but odds of 11/2 and 15/2 aren't quite long enough for me to go E/W on him, but you'll have your own cut-off point, I'm sure.

All of which brings me to On A Session and I'm siding with him to win this. He managed to defy a really poor start to still make the frame and the booking of Marco Ghiani could just swing it. He's 8/1 with Bet365, so you could even go E/W if you wanted.
 

Racing Insights, 23rd June 2021

A good day at Brighton for us with the 1-2-3 in the right order giving us a 6/1 winner, a 26/1 forecast/exacta and a 121/1 trifecta. I expected it to be tight and first pick Little Boy Blue only beat Mamillius by a neck. Sadly, as expected, Latent Heat played up in the stalls, reared up and unseated poor Ray Dawson.

Next up is Wednesday, where the excellent Trainer Stats report is our feature of the day and the free races offered will be...

  • 5.30 Naas
  • 6.30 Naas
  • 7.00 Naas
  • 8.10 Kempton
  • 8.20 Bath

Sunbury on Thames is our destination, as we tackle the 8.10 Kempton, a 10-runner (was 11), Class 4, 4yo+ A/W handicap over 1m3f on the polytrack, where one of the following will earn £4,347 for their connections...

As usual, I'll quickly run through what the card tells us before going on to tell you a bit more about the runners themselves, so working generally from left to right...

FORM : Only Viola and Angel On High have won any of their last five outings with the former also being an LTO winner, but six of the field did at least make the frame LTO.
CLASS MOVERS : Noble Masquerade & Nick Vedder both step up one level, whilst the rest all ran at Class 4 last time out.
COURSE / DISTANCE : Lexington Force & Sweet Celebration have both won here in the past, whilst Oh It's Saucepot has scored at a similar distance to today's contest.
DAYS OFF : With the exception of at a shade over nine weeks, the others have all raced in the last five weeks with Lexington Force & Sweet Celebration rested for less than a fortnight. So none turned out too quickly and none allowed to get "rusty".
AGE : Mainly 4 and 5 yrs olds here other than a pair of 7 yr olds (Oh It's Saucepot & Nick Vedder)
TRAINER FORM : Positives for Oh It's Saucepot, Angel On High & Cozone. Negatives for Viola, Sweet Celebration, Noble Masquerade & Nick Vedder.
JOCKEY FORM : Positives for Sweet Celebration, Oh It's Saucepot, Angel On High & Noble Masquerade. Negatives for Lexington Force & Nick Vedder.
OR / SR SPREAD : The assessor rates Snow Ocean some 17lbs better than Assembled and with Laura Pearson claiming 5lbs off the latter, that's then a huge 22lbs spread. The SR figures are also very spread out with Viola some way clear of Nick Vedder who then also a good distance ahead of cozone.

At this point I wouldn't rule any of them out, but Nick Vedder has too many negatives so far for my liking and Assembled looks out of his depth, but maybe we'll fins something good to say about them both below...

Snow Ocean hasn't won any of nine starts since completing a seven-week hat-trick last August/September with a Class 3 win over 1m2.5f at Chester off a mark of 81, but he has finished as a runner-up in three of those defeats including a 0.75 length defeat back at Chester last time out off 83. He's up another 2lbs here and whilst I expect another bold showing, his best win was that off 81, so I think he's just too high in the weights.

Lexington Force has just six runs under his belt and scored here over a mile on debut in early Feb 2020. He was then a runner-up here over that same trip 28 weeks later before rounding off the year with a narrow defeat in third place at Redcar. Sadly since coming back this year, he hasn't looked the same horse and was last off eleven and 8th of 9 in his last two starts and I'm not convinced an extra three furlongs is going to help him.

Viola looks like a progressive filly and ran well in three races over 1m2f-1m4f last summer with a win and two places. She re-appeared at Lingfield a month ago after 201 days off the track and was a more convincing winner than the half length margin would suggest. She did enough and seemed to have plenty to spare. She's up 3lbs but has the benefit of the very useful 5lb claimer Stefano Cherchi on her back and he's in good touch right now...

Beauty Stone has won her last four, but won't run here.

Sweet Celebration ended her 2020 campaign by finishing third at Wolverhampton and was then a runner-up in successive outings in Jan/Feb of this year, but hasn't really moved on. 4th of 5 at Class 2 was followed by 4th of 6 and 4th of 5 back at this Class 4 level and although only beaten by less than 5 lengths LTO, a 2lb drop in weight might not be enough at 2lbs higher than her last win, but she should at least be competitive.

Oh Its Saucepot is a frustrating sort, she's a decent 5 from 17 (29.4%) at a mile to a mile and a half on turf, but hasn't won any of seven starts on the A/W although she did finish third on the only time she tackled this course and distance. She's only 3lbs higher than that run today as she goes off the same mark as a good staying on runner-up finish at Yarmouth last time out. I do like her, but that A/W form is off-putting, but both yard and particularly jockey are in good form...

Angel On High won over 1m2f at Lingfield in mid-January last year and was then not seen for another five months, when he was then a runner-up here over course and distance. he's had another long break since then and looked like needing the run back at Lingfield 18 days ago. He was 4th of 5, beaten by ten lengths over 1m2f, fading badly in the last couple of furlongs, so I'm not sure he'll want this step up in trip, but the Dunlop horses are going well of late...

Cozone has been quite busy for a 4 yr old, having eleven races in eighteen months and since returning from a four month break has run consistently well in defeat finishing 2233, although he did go down by 11 lengths last time out. In his defence, it was very heavy at Haydock that day and he's better than that.

Noble Masquerade has yet to win in nine attempts, although he's only tackled the A/W once when 4th of 12 (8.5 lengths down) here at Kempton over 1m4f at Class 5 last October. He's 2lbs lower than that now and comes here off the back of his best run to date, beaten by a length and a quarter over 1m2f at Sandown. However, he didn't win that day and up in class, trip and weight, it'd be hard to expect him to land this, but his jockey William Buick is riding very well right now...

Nick Vedder is far more effective on the A/W where he is 6 from 37 than he is on the Flat (1/17), but has finished 8th of 10 and 8th of 11 in his last two A/W outings, both here at Kempton over a mile. He's had two good efforts on the flat since then, taking advantage of a reduced turf mark of 64, but now back off 72, as he has been for his last four A/W runs (all defeats), I see him struggling again, especially up in class/trip and his yard/rider not in the best of form.

Assembled completes the line-up and thanks to his jockey's claim will carry a mere 8 stone, but even that might be too much here. Since landing a C5, 1m novice race at Windsor, he is 0 from 6 in handicap company off marks of 77 down to 71 last time out, when beaten by the thick end of 5 lengths. He's up markedly in trip and I'd avoid him here.

Relevant form courtesy of Instant Expert says...

...that Viola is the standout horse on overall form as well as recent form shown on the racecard. Sweet Celebration likes it here at Kempton and my focus is drawn to the top half of the card, as that's where most of the amber and green is.

If you're very pushed for time, Instant Expert can quickly halve the field for you and I'm now definitely leaning towards the top half for my shortlist, depending draw and pace, of course!

Speaking of the draw, in terms of actual win/place percentages, there doesn't really seem to be much of a bias over 37 previous similar encounters, but if you look at PRB scores (Percentage of rivals beaten), then there's more than a suggestion that you'd rather be drawn low.

In terms of actual individual stalls, that theory is backed up with the 1 to 5 area proving successful, but write off those drawn wide at your peril, because the data from boxes 9 & 10 is strong...

So, if there's not a massive draw bias at play, then we need to consider how the race is run, because positioning could make all the difference, but what we find here is that although leaders and mid-division runners win 25% more often than expected, mainly at the expense of those prominent runners caught between the two favoured positions, once again there's not a massive bias.

Obviously prominent runners don't win enough and hold up horses struggle to make the frame (although they're the best converting places into wins at 12/29 = 41.4%), but the only real takeaway for me here prior to seeing the heatmap is that I'm guessing you don't want to be prominent or held up from stalls 6-8. let's check that heatmap and see if we're right to make that assumption...

Well, yes and no, you definitely don't want to be on that mid-drawn hold up horse and the strength of the data from that wide draw is shown above. But to be honest a top rank of 17.65% isn't an overwhelming verdict and this suggests to me that if you can win from most sectors on that chart, then you'd expect a true race where the better horses should come to the fore. You're not likely to lose the race because of the draw or the pace or a combination of both, but obviously there are better places to be on that chart and here's how our runners fill it...

There's clearly not a great deal of pace on offer here, but I'd expect Angel On High to lead them along with Cozone and Snow Ocean following. Getting close to the action would be the best move for these two as that puts them in the green zone. Nick Vedder will have the rail, but also nine horses to get round and that's another nail in his coffin for me. Beauty Stone doesn't run , of course and Viola looks well positioned.

Summary

Alphabetically, the half of the field I expect the winner and placers to come from are Cozone, Oh It's Saucepot, Snow Ocean, Sweet Celebration and Viola with the latter being the one I like most.

So, it's Viola for me today and as main challengers, I'm going to side with Snow Ocean and the frustrating Oh It's Saucepot. I don't imagine the two I've left out will be too far away, but you can't back five! Let's go and see what the bookies say...

Viola is unexpectedly the 10/3 favourite here with my placers currently priced at 5/1 and 11/1 respectively. 11/1 might be generous about Oh It's Saucepot, because I think she's got an A/W performance in her, so I'll have an E/W nibble there.

 

Racing Insights, 22nd June 2021

I went with Ballyegan Hero at 7/2 to beat Mr Mafia at Newton Abbot today, as I wasn't keen on the 13/8 fav Easyrun de Vassy. Mr Mafia was a 5/1 non-runner meaning a 15p Rule 4 deduction on our winning bet, but a shade under 3/1 is far better than the eventual SP of 7/4. And the fav? 28 lengths adrift back in third at odds of 6/4 :  plenty of singed digits around.

Tuesday's free offering to non-Gold subscribers is The Shortlist report highlighting horses running in conditions they seem to enjoy, whilst our daily list of free racecards are for the following contests...

  • 1.00 Brighton
  • 1.45 Beverley
  • 2.35 Ayr
  • 3.20 Brighton
  • 5.00 Newbury

There are no standouts from the Shortlist report, sadly, so it's back to race profiling I must turn. The Ayr race is the highest grade of the five, but it's only a 4-runner affair, so next best is the first on the list, the 1.00 Brighton, a 7-runner, Class 4, 4yo+ flat handicap over 7f on good to soft (soft in places) ground for a prize of £4,347 and here are the competitors...

We might only have seven runners, but it looks a really competitive affair between a field who have all won at least one of their last four outings and two have won three of their last six. All bar Gambon & Kendergarten Cop (up from C5) ran in this grade last time out and we've two course winners (Little Boy Blue & Batchelor Boy), two distance winners (Gambon & Latent Heat), whilst the other three (Mamillus, Kendergarten Cop & Glasvegas) have all won over track & trip.

All seven have raced recently with Latent Heat's 25 day rest being the longest of these seven geldings, six of whom are aged 4-6 with Mamillus the senior player at the age of 8. He along with Gambon are two highlighted on the card for trainer/jockey form and the competitiveness of the contest is suggested by the SR figures where five of the seven are rated from 67 to 71, although the official assessor says that Little Boy Blue & Gambon are 15lbs better than Latent Heat.

Little Boy Blue has finished in the first three home in five of six runs this year and won at Ascot on soft ground a little over six weeks ago. His last run was here over course and distance was a useful third, beaten by less than three lengths on good to firm ground, but softer ground won't bother him either, as proven at Ascot. Definite shortlist material here, especially with a record at this venue reading 1313 for a yard that is 7 from 34 (20.6% SR, A/E 1.86) in handicaps up to a mile here at Brighton since 2016.

Gambon is the only LTO winner in the field today, courtesy of a win over this trip at Chepstow 11 days ago. That was on good to firm ground, but he has a decent record on good to soft too, but he's up 5lbs here, up in class and does his best work at Chepstow, so he's up against it here, although...

Mamillus had a three month break from late August and since since returning in December, he has three wins and two runner-up finishes from seven outings and was a winner here over 6f just two starts ago. he's better back up at this 7f trip and has two wins and a place from six efforts over course and distance (has won 3 here at Brighton all told). He's a solid Class 4 horse, prefers small fields and I'd expect him to be close today and he has a stack of stats to back him up!

Kendergarten Cop has already scored three times here at Brighton this season at a mile, then 7f and finally at 6f in a 38-day period from late April. The first win came off a mark of 62 reduced by a 7lb claim and the third win came off 71. He then toiled over 5f at Sandown (10th of 12, beaten by over 6 lengths) off his new rating of 75 and even the re-booking of his 7lb claimer couldn't get him to win here over 6f a week ago when headed at the post. No 7lb claim here, up both class and trip, I'd have to say this looks a tall order, even if he is 1112 here at Brighton.

Glasvegas is another with three wins already this season, the last of which was two starts and eight weeks ago here over course and distance. That was at Class 5 off a mark of 73 and when moved up to Class 4 LTO he was only 4th of 7 over C&D off 74 and I think going again at the same class/track/trip/OR isn't going to change his fortunes.

Batchelor Boy actually dead-heated for a win here over 6f at the start of the month with the pair some 3.5 lengths clear of the pack and he had excuses when only 5th of 7 at bath last time out over an inadequately short trip on quicker ground. He goes off the same mark today, but the in-form Mark Crehan takes 3lbs off and that could make a difference here and we've some positive data to share...

Latent Heat is bottom weight here and receives at least 5lbs from his rivals and is only a pound higher than when winning over a mile at this grade on heavy ground at Goodwood back in October. Unfortunately, he hasn't kicked on since then and was 9th of 12 next time out. He then took six months off and ran twice in May finishing 6th of 7 on both occasions and this is probably too tough for him. He's also getting a bit of a reputation for being temperamental and often misbehaves in the stalls.

Relevant form via Instant Expert...

We've not many winners in softer underfoot conditions and three of these have yet to win a C4 handicap, but we've plenty of good course form to consider. Small fields don't seem to bother this lot and we've quite a number of previous wins in 7f handicaps. Gambon carries 5lbs more than his highest win, but there are no really big differences to overcome with the 1lb extra for Mamillus looking the most favourable. Latent Heat also only has a pound to find, but I wasn't keen on him in the write-up section and IE confirms my feelings.

Draw Stats...

From a win perspective, stall 1 (Batchelor Boy) is clearly the place to be , whilst those aiming to make the frame would appear to have the best chance from stall 3 (Latent heat), but those detials tend to make me question the data for stall 2, whose numbers are quite poor and if you just looked at the draw in sectors, there's not a great deal in it...

Pace Stats...

These, however, show a clear bias towards those prepared to stick their neck out and set the pace...

50% of the races have been won by leaders and the premise here is almost..."if you can't lead, you're unlikely to win, so hold back and finish strongly..."

Pace/draw Combo...

If you're looking for a winner, then what I wrote just above is backed up by this data...

...where unsurprisingly leading is the best policy, irrespective of draw with hold up horses faring poorly. We did, however suggest that those who couldn't lead should hold back and then aim for a place late on and the data for placed runners...

...backs up that theory with low to mid drawn hold-up horses making the frame quite often. So we already know our draw for today and we now know how that draw interacts with race pace, but e don't know how the seven horses are going to run. That means we have to make our own judgement, but thankfully all horses' running styles are logged into our database and we can use past performances as an indicator as to how they might tackle their next race.

The caveat here is that trainers can change their instructions, especially if the horses is out of form. The horse might "play up" on the day and not follow orders or they could get a poor ride. Thankfully all those factors are relatively rare and we're confident about our pace data for individual horses. We can look at recent runs (and all 7 have raced recently) and we can then drop them onto that heatmap above as follows (in draw order)...

This suggests that we could well have a bit of race on our hands and if the front four or five all go at it and take each other on, those not used to softer ground might find themselves wanting late on, favouring the likes of Little Boy Blue and Mamillus amongst the front ranked runners.

Summary

I've got this as a 2-division race with hopefully (and alphabetically) Batchelor Boy, Little Boy Blue and Mamillus being the prominent bunch. I don't actually have much between them and Batchelor Boy has the plum draw, of course. Little Boy Blue has a win and two places from three soft ground runs, so stamina is there for him and with 2 wins and 2 places from 4 here at Brighton, conditions look favourable, whilst Mamillus is solid at this grade, loves these smaller field and has a jockey and yard both in great form.

Ideally, I'd fudge the issue and walk away at this point, but I'm not sure that's what you want to read, so in order of preference I've just about got it as Little Boy Blue (6/1) / Mamillus (9/2) / Batchelor Boy (8/1). The market doesn't agree with me, but they're not always right, are they?

 

Racing Insights, 21st June 2021

After looking at two horses for Saturday, I didn't fancy either and I left them alone. As it happens, Bint Australia finished seventh of nine and Baby Alya was a non-runner (she ran Friday instead and won). Instead of suggesting bets on those tow, I preferred other runners in each race and I ended with a 13/2 runner-up (Gold Souk) and 7/1 winner in the shape of Elvrika, so looking at those two races wasn't a lost cause after all.

Monday's 'feature of the day' is free full access to the PACE tab for ALL readers for ALL races including, of course, our free 'races of the day' which will be...

  • 2.05 Southwell
  • 3.20 Newton Abbot
  • 4.40 Ballinrobe
  • 6.00 Windsor
  • 6.30 Windsor
  • 7.40 Ballinrobe

I'm not sure whether Windsor will go ahead and I'm not keen on the Irish card for Monday, so I'm down to two choices for my preview. Sadly, the Southwell race is a mares bumper, so we're sort of left with the 3.20 Newton Abbot! But it's an interesting-looking small field affair, as it's a 5-runner, Class 4, Handicap Chase for 5yo+ over 3m2f on Good (Good to soft in places with rain due) ground worth £3,594 to one of...

Of these five, only Mr Mafia is without a win in his last five starts, but none of them were good enough to win last time out. To aid his chances, Gangster drops in class as the only class mover. Three of the field have raced in the last three weeks, but Optimistic Bias has been off for ten weeks, whilst likely favourite Easyrun de Vassy hasn't raced for 41 weeks, but he along with Gangster have both won over this 3m2f trip before, as has Mr Mafia who did it here at Newton Abbot. None of the others have won here before. Four of the field are at the veteran stage now, aged 10-12, but Easyrun de Vassy is only 7 and he heads a tight 3lb weight spread from highest to lowest.

Easyrun De Vassy got off the mark at the ninth time of asking when winning a 5-runner chase by 5.5 lengths over today's class/trip at Fontwell off a mark of 109. He then reappeared three weeks later at the same class, track and trip off today's mark of 114 and was last home of seven, beaten by eleven lengths. That was his last run and he now has to put both that run and a 41-week layoff behind him to run here against more experienced rivals.

Mr Mafia is getting on a bit at 12 yrs old now, but won here over course and distance at a higher grade back in 2019 and when he last came here in September 2020, was a runner up over track and trip again at Class 3. He had three indifferent efforts after that, but looked like coming back to form last month when only beaten by half a length at Worcester and might still be well treated here off a mark of 113.

Optimistic Bias landed a 3m soft ground contest at Uttoxeter four starts ago (Nov '20) and although didn't fire in two subsequent efforts, ran a decent enough race to finish third at Plumpton last time out over slightly further than today, he 2lbs lower than that race now, but would need a similar or better effort to feature here.

Gangster is an out and out stayer, but inconsistent with it, as epitomised by the four runs he's had since the start of March : 6th of 7, beaten by 47L, a 14-length win over four miles and then two fifth place finishes beaten by 50L and 25L. Every so often he just throws in a good performance (he won off 9lbs higher last year!), but can't be relied upon, I'm afraid.

Ballyegan Hero has been running pretty well this summer season after finishing third of ten at Plumpton over this trip, he then stepped up to Class 3 to win by seven lengths on good to soft ground over 3m3f in conditions similar to what he'll face today. More was expected of him back down to this grade at Hexham earlier this month, but the 6th of 9, 25 lengths adrift doesn't tell the whole story. He made a bad mistake early that knocked the stuffing out of him and he never got into the race, so I'm inclined to overlook that and hope for a repeat of the previous two efforts.

Relevant form via Instant Expert says...

...that Easyrun de Vassy is best suited by these conditions, but the caveat here is that two runs is a small sample size that needs to be treated with caution, he's still 1 from 10 and is 5lbs higher than his sole win. Mr Mafia goes well here, loves any trip at 3m and beyond and the market is usually a good indicator of his chances. Optimistic Bias is certainly proven at Class 4, he likes small fields and is another about whom the market is usually right, but he'd prefer a shorter trip.

Gangster's record at Class 4 is also good and he fares well after only a short break, but I think he'd prefer a longer trip on softer ground, but if lots of rain comes, he might be happy. Ballyegan Hero is probably better than Instant Expert would suggest. He's 1 from 1 on good to soft and that's probably where we're heading, he hasn't won at Class 4, but did win at a higher level two starts ago and that was over 3m3f, so there are excuses for his poor showing on IE.

As this is an NH race, we obviously don't have stalls and therefore don't have draw data or a pace/draw heatmap, but we can tell you about pace. Pace is a bit of a misnomer in NH contests, because it doesn't really mean who is the fastest etc, it's more to do with race positioning and for this type of contest, it pays to be up with the pace, as coming from anywhere too far back is difficult to win from...

We can show you how these have tended to race based on their last four outings...

...suggesting that Mr Mafia & Easyrun de Vassy are likeliest to take it on.

Summary

Based on the pace profile above, it could well be that Mr Mafia & Easyrun de Vassy take it on and whilst history dictates that this tactic is best here in this sort of race, I'm not convinced it'll pan put here. I'm concerned that Easyrun de Vassy is coming off a long layoff to run off a mark at which he was well beaten at LTO and there's a real chance he tires and goes back through the field or pulls up.

This would leave Mr Mafia in the boxseat and the one I like from the pack would be Ballyegan Hero if can keep in touch with the leaders. He won a better race than this two starts ago and if running to that same level, has possibly the best chance of all.

I'm aware that I'm relying on ifs and buts here, but the way I see it is that if Easyrun stays, he's got a great chance, but I don't think he will stay. If Ballyegan reproduces that run from two starts ago, then he also has a great chance. I think a reproduction is more likely than Easyrun staying 3m2f from the front.

So, based on those assumptions, I'm siding with Ballyegan Hero at 7/2 with the equally priced Mr Mafia as my backup, as he's 8 from 27 (29.6%) at odds of 5/1 or shorter.

Finally a last word about Easyrun de Vassy : irrespective of whether he stays or not, he's not a 13/8 shot here in my eyes! (I await egg on my face!)

Racing Insights, 19th June 2021

Goodwood is abandoned for Friday, so my preview went to just one runner, Ballyhome. Sadly he had to play second fiddle to Lord bryan who made all, couldn't be caught and beat our featured horse by five lengths, but look at the pace graphic I shared last night...

They were the first two in the pace rankings and the end result...

Monty's Award, by the way, was the 10/1 shot that appealed to me most from those "at a price"

*

After all that, onto my last piece of the week and I'm assisted (as all readers are) by free access to the excellent Trainer/Jockey combo report as well as the following free races...

  • 2.00 Perth
  • 2.10 Newmarket
  • 3.40 Ascot
  • 4.00 Down Royal
  • 4.35 Down Royal
  • 5.45 Lingfield

And it's to the Trainer/Jockey combo report that I turn today, focusing on my qualifiers from the 5yr course handicap figures, which highlight two runners of interest...

First up is Bint Australia...

Overall, the Fanshawe/Muscott partnership has 8 wins and 8 places from 29 runs here at Lingfield (27.6% win, 55.2% place), but that doesn't tell the full story, as under today's conditions those 29 have...

  • 4 wins, 2 places from 12 from female runners
  • 4 wins, 3 places from 11 at Class 5
  • 2 wins, 4 places from 9 with 4 yr olds
  • 2 wins, 2 places from 4 over 1m3.5f/1m4f

All good, BUT only 2 of those 29 were on turf and whilst both made the frame (neither won), it's fair to say that the headline stats is based on A/W form, but hey here we are. The filly's own record looks like this...

She comes here in decent nick, considering she hasn't won any of her six starts so far. Her sole run on soft ground was her debut at Haydock last July and she wasn't disgraced in getting beaten by less than 6 lengths at this class, but since then she hasn't been out of the frame, finishing 22233 and was a creditable third on handicap debut last time out. She never looked like winning if truth be told but she stayed on well and the extra 1.5 furlongs might suit her here.

She's drawn in stall 1, which on the face of the low/med/high sector stats doesn't look the best place to be for this contest...

...and this is backed up the 0 from 18 record for stall 1 in similar contests, but there is a healthy 38.9% place strike rate, which is as good as any other stall, so maybe it's not a forlorn hope today.

Irrespective of where she's drawn, what she really can't afford to do here is dwell at the start and then sit at the back of the field, as history suggests this is a poor tactic which just 2 of 52 hold-up horses managing to win...

The above details are reflected in the pace/draw heatmap which favours the bottom right corner combos, as we look at it...

Bint Australia actually tends to run somewhere between the two best running styles, but stall 1's poor 0 from 18 result means her place on that heatmap looks like this...

...but hang on, Chris. Didn't you say that stall 1 made the frame as often if not more than any other stall. Yes I did and here's that same heatmap from a place perspective...

Beat The Heat is expected to set the pace in this one, but the pace/draw data suggests that Bint Australia is well positioned for a place.

*

Our second race features Baby Alya, who may or may not run on Saturday, as she's also booked for Friday's 7.00 Newmarket...

The Ryan/Muscott/Haydock handicap combo is really interesting at 6 wins and 7 places from 25 runs (24%w, 52%p) since the start of the 2016 season, because in that same time they are 0 from 23 with just 5 placers in non-handicaps.

But of the 25 'cappers that interest us...

  • 3 yr olds have 4 wins, 2 places from 10
  • 3 wins, 2 places from 10 on good to firm
  • 2 wins, 3 places from 5 female runners
  • 1 win, 2 places from 4 at Class 4

which is encouraging, but the flip side is just one placer from four in June, just 2 placers from 5 over a mile (but the sole 8.5f runner won) and no wins from five during 2020/21, although three of the five made the frame.

Baby Alya is lightly raced so far, so her career stats are a little sparse...

...but I can tell you that she won on debut at Newcastle (C5, 7f) by 1.25 lengths last September with Tom Eaves on board on her only start as a 2 yr old before taking 219 days off track. She then ran reasonably well at the same track/trip/class to finish third under Tom Eaves again before making a turf/hcp debut at Newmarket last month, stepped up to a mile for the first time.

She ran pretty well to be honest, probably better than 4th of 12 would suggest when closer inspection shows she was only beaten by just over length having been squeezed for room in the final furlong. A similar effort would give her a chance of another place, you'd have thought.

She's drawn widest of all in stall 10 and the draw sector analysis isn't favourable for high draws...

...but stall by stall analysis would suggest that 5 wins/9 places from 30 (16.66%, 30%) from the combined data for stalls 10 & 11 isn't as bad as the sector data suggests, which are skewed by poor numbers for stalls 8 & 9...

The pace, however, is easier to work out. It's Haydock, it's quick ground (Gd to Fm here is like concrete in comparison to the mud we often get here) and the premise is very simple : lead or get/stay close to the leader. Hold-up horses (4 from 106) need not apply!

This is, of course, reflected in the pace/draw heatmap which says lead from a high draw or get in close from a low draw, so if Baby Alya likes to be up with the pace, she could well be favoured by that 10th stall...

Sadly, she's been held up in her three runs to date and that's really not going to work here...

and even from a place perspective, she can't afford to be at the back...

Summary

Two runners representing successful trainer/jockey partnerships, but to cut a long story short, I can't be backing either to win here.

I'm happy to explain where I'm at for those who are interested, so here goes. Bint Australia has every chance of making the frame and I think she'll do just that, but her record is better on A/W than turf, she hasn't raced on turf for almost 11 months and her mark of 74 is a little high as it's based on her 4 places from 4 on the A/W.

She's currently 4/1 and I can't back her E/W or for a place at those odds. If I was to play this race, Gold Souk (6/1) & City Tour (7/1) look more interesting.

As for Baby Alya, I don't see her even making the places. Her hcp/turf debut was promising, but although it's the same class of race, this one looks tougher. She's not going to make much impression from the back on this track, so a change of tactics would be required here.

The only way I'd want to get involved was if she was double digit odds and I could have a small bet to nothing on the place. As it is, she's only 13/2 which is shorter than I'd want. Elvrika at 9/2 is the one I was more interested in.

Racing Insights, 18th June 2021

Friday's free feature is the horses for courses report, whilst our daily free races of the day are...

  • 2.55 Down Royal
  • 3.40 Ascot
  • 4.05 Down Royal
  • 4.55 Limerick
  • 6.25 Newmarket
  • 8.40 Newmarket

And I think we'll look at my qualifiers from the horses for courses report for Friday...

...starting with Ballyhome in the 3.25 Market Rasen, a 7-runner, Class 3, 5yo+ handicap chase over 2m6½f on Good ground and here's his entry on the card...

He has also won a non-handicap event here taking his form at Market Rasen to read 21P112212 from which he is 3 from 6 at Class 3, 2 from 3 over fences, 2 from 2 at this trip and also 1 from at just half a furlong further and 3 from 7 on Good ground. His highest winning mark here has been 135 (-3lb), so at 140 (-5lb), he has 3lbs more to find.

Six of his eight races since the start of 2020 have been here at Market Rasen and he won twice over course and distance here last year. In his last race, six weeks ago, he was coming back from a 169-day absence but still ran a a creditable 2nd of 8 here over hurdles at a furlong longer than today's trip. Back down in distance and back over fences with the benefit of having had a run, I'd expect this 10yr old to be giving it his all as usual.

As this isn't a free race, I won't show the full Instant Expert, but trust me when I say his "line" is the best on offer in this race...

The pace stats for the race suggest you want to be at the head or close to the head of affairs, as it has proven tough to win from mid-division or worse...

..and the place stats would also back up that theory. Ballyhome, however, isn't a leader, he doesn't like to set the tempo of a race, as can be seen from this snippet below...

...which suggests Lord Bryan is likely to take the race on alone, as Ballyhome's pace position is actually the nearest to the expected leader, so I suppose technically that means Ballyhome then becomes prominent? Something for me to ponder, whilst I gather the details for our second race, the 5.40 Goodwood, a 10-runner, Class 4 apprentice Handicap for 4yo+ runners over 7f on good to firm ground and here's Sir Titan's card entry with some in-line stats...

That 3 wins and a place from 8 runs here reads 21100716 and includes 1 from at Class 4, 2 from 3 in May/June, 3 from 6 over this 7f C&D, 1 from 1 on good to firm and 3 from 5 off marks of 76 to 84, yet jockey Mollie Phillips takes 7lbs off an already interesting mark of 75 today.

He won here over C&D (C5, soft) at the end of August off a mark of 76, but then suffered a run of six defeats off higher marks before landing a Class 4 handicap over this trip at Kempton two starts ago off 73.

Things didn't quite go to plan last time out when ridden too strongly over a mile a Windsor and he faded badly late on and it is hoped that the drop back in trip will help him here. I'd also hope he gets a kinder ride from today's 7lb claimer. You might not have heard of Mollie Phillips, but she has ridden ten times in the last fortnight, winning three times and making the frame on another three occasions with some nice prices in there.

Once again, I'll only show you his entry from Instant Expert, but there was only one other horse (Colonel Whitehead) who had figures anywhere near these...

He's drawn in stall 2, which is as good a place as any from a win perspective and definitely somewhere to run from if you're looking at the place stats...

From a pace perspective, hold up horses have fared the best here and although it looks like leaders are second best, I'd treat that 14.29% record with some caution. It's only based on 14 runners, so it might not be entirely reliable. That said it's 2 more winners than mid-division runners have managed from more than twice as many attempts, so the takeaway from the pace stats is that mid-division is not the way to go...

As for his own pace, Sir Titan looks like fourth rank here, with his natural prominent racing style seeming to fit well with being drawn so low...

With Miquelon just outside him setting the pace, there's every chance he'll go with the leader, giving himself a great chance of at least making the frame. On paper, at least!

Summary

Two runners with good course records seemingly suited by conditions ahead of them and both in reasonably good form. In the Market Rasen contest, I've got Ballyhome at the top of my figures and I think that 7/2 looks quite generous, so I'll have a piece of that, whilst I also liked the look of Monty's Award at an interesting 10/1.

As for the Goodwood encounter, I've got Sir Titan as fourth best, but certainly not out of it. That said, if I've got it right, he's going to have to beat at least one of Quick Breath, Cold Stare or Flaming Spear to make the frame, but at 9/1, could well be worth a small E/W bet, especially if he can put enough early daylight between himself and those three. And depending on your own cut-off point for E/W betting, Cold Stare can be had at 8's here.

Racing Insights, 17th June 2021

Taylored was collared and headed inside the final 100 yards today as the well backed Stronsay finally snapped a long losing run.

Thursday's 'feature of the day' is free access to the wonderful Instant Expert overview to ALL readers for ALL races, including, of course, our 'races of the day' aka...

  • 3.25 Ripon
  • 3.40 Ascot
  • 4.30 Chelmsford
  • 5.55 Leopardstown
  • 6.30 Leopardstown

I did consider tackling the Ribblesdale (3.40 Ascot), where I fancied the chances of Dubai Fountain at 11/1 to at least make the frame, but I'll leave that race for other colleagues to discuss, whilst I remain in my comfort zone with the 4.30 Chelmsford, an 8-runner, Class 4, 4yo+ A/W handicap over 1m2f on the Polytrack, where top prize is £4,347...

Here's the full card for the contest...

We've four with a win from their last five outings, although Mafia Power's results seem to be improving. War Leader is the sole LTO winner and he along with Top Class Angel (one of two fillies here, as is Punting) are the two stepping up a class. Top weight Al Muffrih comes down 2 rungs today and is a former winner at this trip, as is Mafia Power, War Leader and El Conquistador. Top Class Angel has yet to win at this trip, whilst Red October, Ritchie Valens and Punting are all course and distance winners.

Trainer Stuart Williams has 5 winners and 3 runners-up from his last 13 runners prior to Wednesday's racing, so he has the 14 icon for both top and bottom weighted horses, Hugo Palmer & Richard Hughes both have excellent strike rates at this track. Jockey-wise, we've two claimers, one of whom is struggling for form, as is Sean Levey, but Cieren Fallon and Ryan Tate are both going well, as is Pat Cosgrave who also has a good record here.

The handicapper rates stablemates Al Muffrih and El Conquistador as being 13lbs apart, but the latter heads our SR figures, a little way clear of four runners separated by just 5pts.

Al Muffrih drops down two classes to run in a Class 4 contest for the first time since winning over this trip at Newbury 37 months ago, but has only won 1 of 14 since and has been beaten in each of his last eleven since May 2019. He's now 6lbs lower than his last win, but has been well beaten in his last two and a 7th of 10, beaten by over 9 lengths LTO was poor prep for this. I'd look elsewhere!

Red October won here over course and distance at a higher grade almost 10 months ago, but hasn't made the frame in five runs since. He returned from 164 days off the track to run at this class/trip at Leicester at the start of the month, but was 5th of 8, seven lengths off the pace. He's 3lbs lower than his last win and is entitled to come on for the run, but I fear others might be better suited.

Ritchie Valens is 1 from 11 on the Flat and also 1 from 11 on the A/W, so there's some consistency of a sort there! His sole A/W win came at this track/trip/class just over a year ago off 1lb higher and when you consider a 5lb jockey claim, he's well weighted here today, however he hasn't made the frame in either of his last two runs, both off this mark and one with the 5lb claim. Improvement needed for me to want to back him.

Punting is 3 from 7 on the A/W and won here over track/trip/class off 2lbs lower on her last A/W outing just four weeks ago. She has since finished a creditable third over 2.5f further on softer than ideal ground at Chester and now back on more favourable conditions should be in the mix for a yard that is 11 from 31 (35.5% SR, A/E 1.95) in Class 3/4 handicaps here at Chelmsford up to 1m2f since the start of 2018.

Mafia Power has been improving and knocking on the door since returning from a 200-day absence to finish 5th at Wolverhampton in April. He has finished 432 since and only went down by three quarters of a length over further at Windsor last time out. He might well have just one win from thirteen, but I'd expect him to be involved here.

War Leader stayed on well to score at Yarmouth a month ago over this trip to finally break his duck after 13 defeats, many of them quite heavy. He took advantage of a career-low mark of 70 that day and is now up in class and up 5lbs and that's probably more than enough to anchor him again, as he's 0 from off marks of 72-76.

Top Class Angel won two of her last three starts in 2020, both class 5 handicaps over a mile, the first of which was here at Chelmsford. She was, however, beaten by almost 10 lengths at Class 4 between the two wins and hasn't kicked on this season, failing to make the frame in all three starts. She is back down to her last winning mark, but the step back up to Class 4 where she hasn't even placed in four attempts should be a step too far.

El Conquistador is having a great year in A/W handicaps, finishing 3113 in four efforts so far and beaten by less than a length behind Punting at class/course/trip last time out. He's now 2lbs better off for the rematch and another tight tussle is expected. Both wins came at this trip, but both were at Lingfield, he has yet to score here after three attempts.

Instant Expert...

From a general perspective, Ritchie Valens (going/class/trip), Mafia Power (class) and War Leader (class) look weak, although the middle horse of that trio, Mafia Power, is certainly improving with each recent run. Red October is interestingly lower than his last winning mark, but El Conquistador still carries half a stone more than his last success, even if he is bottom weight here.

To ensure we're not leaning too much on novice/maiden form on the Flat etc, we should really consider those records above when translated into A/W handicap form...

...where Al Muffrih & Ritchie Valens are poor on the going figures and the latter has failed several times at Class 4, this track and the 10f trip. Safe to say, I'm not keep on RV right now. Punting brings the only line of green, whilst Red October, Top Class Angel and El Conqusitador all have a couple of greens, albeit off small sample sizes. Mafia Power & War Leader are largely untried under these conditions.

Draw Stats...

After looking at the data from last 51 similar contests, my initial reaction is that you need to get away from the rail, as stalls 1 and 2 haven't won anywhere near their fair share of races. They do OK on the place figures, but if pushed for a "draw zone" comment,  I'd say avoid 1 & 2 and try for 4 to 6. This is good for followers of El Conquistador, Top Class Angel and Ritchie Valens, but not so much for War Leader and/or Al Muffrih...

...that said, it's really no good getting a great draw if you don't make full se of it and 10 furlongs is a fair way to go, so race positioning becomes keys, as we'll now see in...

Pace Stats...

Where, quite simply, the further forward you race, the better the chance you're going to have.

And we can look back at our runners' last four outings to see how they tend to run and it's quite interesting...

Red October looks to be the pace in the race and drawn 7 of 8, he's well away from the low draws, meaning he could well open up a decent lead. We can tell if this would be a viable tactic by combining the 3 draw sectors with the 4 running styles to create a 12-block matrix that we call the...

Pace/Draw Heat Map...

...which for this race looks like this

It was pretty obvious that it was going to favour the centrally drawn runners who like to get on with it, whilst the low drawn hold up horses have really suffered. We can now overlay our eight horses onto this heatmap based on their actual draw here and their past running styles and if they run like they normally run then the positioning looks like this...

There's not a great deal of pace in the contest, but Red October's best chance is going to be to get out as quickly as he can and hold on for as long as he can. I've a feeling that Punting might well go with him, as to ally those old "you can't win from wide" fears that go about the sport.

Summary

From everything I documented before that last heat map graphic, my three against the field were to be (alphabetically) El Conquistador, Mafia Power and Punting, but I think I'm going to leave red October in with that trio for a moment whilst I look back. He's certainly entitled to come for having had a run recently and I think he's better than 5th of 8, beaten by seven lengths, but does he win here?

Probably not, although I think he gets very close and could well be in the frame.

So who wins? For me, Punting. I think she'll race a bit more prominently and will catch Red October and I also think she has enough to hold off El Conquistador who might well end up too far back to catch Red October. So, I suppose this means I'm now discarding Mafia Power

To be honest, all four could end up in a tight finish, but if I had to nail my colours to the mast, it'd be Punting / Red October / El Conquistador / Mafia Power, but tight!

Punting is currently 7/1 which looks generous, so I'll take some of that and you can get the same at bet365 about Red October, interesting for the hedgers amongst you, but not long enough to go E/W for me. The overlooked Mafia Power is the 7/2 fav here, so I might end up with egg on my face.

 

Please Note, I'm out on family business all day Thursday, so my piece for Friday's racing won't appear until later than usual, but it will appear!

Racing Insights, 16th June 2021

Poetic Flare was pretty imperious on his way to another Group 1 success by more than four lengths and I was happy to have got on at 4/1. Hopefully a few of you did the same. My second bet of the race was the 9/1 Chindit, who didn't manage to land the forecast for us, but did manage to finish fifth to give us a small profit from an E/W bet. As predicted, those who led were well beaten by  the end and our longshot E/W punt La Barrosa just never got into the race, but we've made a profit here, so it's time to move on.

Wednesday's feature is the Trainer Stats report, whilst our daily free races are as follows...

  • 1.20 Wexford
  • 2.40 Hamilton
  • 3.00 Wexford
  • 3.05 Ascot
  • 3.35 Wexford
  • 6.00 Ripon

I'll leave the Queen's Vase (3.05 Ascot) alone, as 15 runner contests are beyond my comfort zone and this game is all about playing the races you're most comfortable with. As you know, I'm also not a big fan of Irish racing and the Ripon offering is a fillies maiden, another sort I avoid. This means that today's focus falls upon a tight-looking small field affair in the 2.40 Hamilton, which is a 6-runner, 3yo+, Class 5, Flat handicap over 6f on Good to Firm ground. The prize is a mere £2,862 and these are the contenders...

Form : Only The Mackem Torpedo and Cool Dandy have won any of their last five runs, but that's not unusual at this level, there are plenty of placed efforts to consider.

Class Movers : The top two on the card ran at this grade LTO, but Reely Bonnie, The Mackem Torpedo, Stronsay and Cool Dandy all step up from Class 6.

Course / Distance form : Ey Up it's Mick is the only previous Hamilton winner and he's won over track and trip. Of the others, only Taylored and Stronsay have yet to score over 6f.

Days Rested : All have raced in the last three weeks (if you're reading on Tuesday!) with Cool Dandy having also raced as recently as Monday.

Age / Sex : We've two fillies (Reely Bonnie & Cool Dandy) and 2 x 3yo, a 4yo and 3 x 5yo.

Weight / SR Range : Ey Up It's Mick will carry top weight of 9-9 after allowances, some 18lbs more than Cool Dandy. At 72 on the SR figures Stronsay is well clear of the pack, but just two points separate the next three ranked, Ey Up it's Mick, Cool Dandy and Taylored.

Trainer Form : Stronsay's yard looks out of form, whilst The Mackem Torpedo's handler has struggled here at Hamilton of late, but David O'Meara (Taylored) does do well at this track.

Jockey Form : Andrew Mullen & Jack Garrity (Reely Bonnie & The Mackem Tornado) could both do with a change of fortune, but Sam James (Cool Dandy has had a god couple of weeks), whilst Ben Curtis (Stronsay) has ridden well here in the past.

Ey Up It's Mick was a course and distance winner here 11 months ago when scoring by two lengths off today's mark of 67, but he hasn't won any of 12 races since. That said, he has been running consistently without success, rarely getting beaten by much and only went down by a length and a quarter here over C&D less than a fortnight ago. If he could get going a little quicker, he'd have every chance here.

Taylored is 0 from 9 so far, but has been a narrowly beaten runner-up in both starts since switching to David O'Meara's yard and it is hoped that a drop in trip helps him see the race out a little better today.

Really Bonnie's form line makes dismal reading since she won at Ayr last July in a Class 6 6f contest on handicap debut off a mark of 63. She has struggled of late, losing her last four outings by a combined 54 lengths, all at Class 6 and the drop in trip with a rise in class just looks like they're trying anything they can to get a run out of her. She's not good enough here in my opinion.

The Mackem Torpedo was running consistently well in Class 6 handicaps last year and then won two from three in November/December. A drop to 5f didn't work for him on New Year's Eve when beaten by nearly 6 lengths. He was then off track for 159 days, but had no run last time out on his return as he stumbled and unseated his rider after less than a third of the 7.5f trip at Ayr last week. He'll probably still need a run and the step up in class won't help.

Stronsay has won just 1 of 31 outings to date and that sole win came on his fourth start some 34 months ago. Once rated 76, he could, however, now be on a dangerous mark of just 52, especially if running in a similar vein as when a 1.25 length runner-up here over course and distance last week. Yes, he's up in class and weight, but will have the benefit of Ben Curtis on his back and in a weak looking contest, that 2nd place LTO looks a good piece of work.

Cool Dandy is running pretty well right now and was a winner over 6f at Carlisle less than three weeks ago, before finishing third over the same track/trip on Monday. She's clearly enjoying herself right now and whilst I'm not sure she'll run here, she's sure to be involved if there are no ill effects turned back out so quickly. She's got some notable breeding behind her too and she's the most recent winner in this field.

Instant Expert isn't going to tell us much from a win perspective, when the field have a combined strike rate of just 7.62% (8 from 105)...

and it looks even worse when considering just Flat handicaps...

...but they have made the frame in 31 of those 105 runs (29.5%) which will at least give us a bit more data to play with...

...and in Flat handicaps...

On that final graphic, it's hard to overlook Ey Up It's Mick's place record in flat handicaps at class/course/distance especially as he has a win strike rate below 10% through his career, but a mark of 67 equals his highest winning mark, so he has little room for error. Stronsay & Really Bonnie are both well below their last winning marks and the latter has made the frame in three of four 6f Flat handicaps.

Draw Stats :

Again I've based my numbers of fields of 5-7 runners to give a larger sample size ...

And here for a 6-runner race, I'd be treating stalls 6 & 7 as one entity at 15 wins (26.79%) and 22 places (39.29%) from 56 runs and from that, I'd say that although stalls 1 to 3 win races at 21/48 (43.75%), they fall a little short of the 50% you'd expect if there was no draw bias and with stall 4 performing so badly, you'd probably also expect stall 3's figures to be a bit higher. Thus with stalls 5 and 6 now having 27 winners, I'd want my horse to be out wide today, which would favour The Mackem Tornado and Stronsay, whilst Instant Expert's best, Ey Up It's Mick, has the coffin box number 4.

Pace Stats :

Off a small number of runners, those who tend to race in mid-division do pretty well with an IV of 1.35, but leading is the best policy over 6f at Hamilton, especially on quicker ground. prominent runners often do too much too soon to chase the leaders, whilst hold up horses invariably end up too far off the pace to make anything from the race. Leaders manage to hold on to win 1 in 3 and make the frame almost 6 times out of 10 attempts...

Draw / pace : 

When we mix the draw stats with the pace stats, we generate a heat map made up of all 12 possible draw/run style combinations and we can look at how our runners normally run and drop them onto that heat map as follows...

This would suggest that nobody will want to take the race on, but Taylored has set the pace in each of  his last two outings since switching yards and as they have been his best runs to date, I'm expecting him to move towards the right on that chart and attempt to win it from the front. Next out of the stalls is likely to be the well drawn Stronsay and with very little pace inside of him, he should be able make the small tack across towards the near side and he also has a pace score of 4 (led ) and 3 (prominent) in his last four runs, so he could well go with Taylored to make a race of it.

Summary

Despite his suggested poor draw and pace/draw make-up, I still like Ey Up It's Mick's chances of finishing in the top half of the field and he's the one that I'd add to Taylored and Stronsay from above. Taylored is running well under new handling/tactics and Stronsay doesn't win anywhere near often enough. He cam pretty close last, but up in class and weight doesn't suggest he breaks that duck here. So it's between Taylored & Ey Up It's Mick for the win and I'm inclined to go with the recent progression of Taylored here.

As for the runner-up slot, there's not much between Ey Up It's Mick and Stronsay on my numbers, but it's hard to ignore the former's record at this venue, meaning Stronsay is the odd one out this time for me.

The bookies have Taylored as 9/2 fourth best here, so I'm happy to take a piece of that, whilst "Mick" is currently the fav as low as 9/4 and that's a bit skinny in my opinion. We've not his a forecast for a while, so it'd be nice if this one came in.

Racing Insights, 15th June 2021

The Shortlist report is Tuesday's free feature open to all readers, regardless of Gold status and this report highlights horses running under conditions in which they performed well in the past. We also have a list of free races each day, accessible to all readers and for Tuesday, they are set to be...

  • 1.05 Thirsk
  • 2.20 Stratford
  • 4.20 Ascot
  • 5.55 Sligo
  • 6.40 Beverley

The Ascot race is clearly the best of that selection and although I'm pretty that one (or more) of my more qualified Geegeez colleagues will be previewing the race, I'm still going to look at it from a toolkit perspective. If I end up agreeing with the other previews, that should cement the opinions or it might just be that I find something I like that they don't!

So, without further ado, my race preview for Tuesday is for the 4.20 Ascot, the 13-runner, Group 1, St James's Palace Stakes. It's for 3 yr old colts over a mile on Good ground (firmer in places) and the prize is a cool £198,485. Here's the card for the event...

As it's such a big race at a prestigious meeting, I'm already aware that Poetic Flare is a clear favourite and he'd certainly be high on my list of possibles for this, but I shall try not to let the market cloud my interpretation of the tools.

Often with these big races, I use the tools as a process of elimination before analysing the runners them selves, so things will be ordered slightly differently today and we'll come back to the card itself later, but I want to look at Instant Expert first...

Here I'm drawn to Chindit and Naamoos on the going and Chindit & Poetic Flare at Class 1. I'm not treading too much into prior course form, as we've only three to visit here before and all won, whilst over a mile, only Chindit has scored more than once, although many of this field have clocked up wins at 7f.

At this point, I'm ready to discard Wembley (generally) and Ontario (0/6 at Class 1), as I now look at the draw stats...

This would appear to favour those drawn in the central 6 to 8 stalls, although the widest draws still have 3 wins from 24, but as a three-box cluster six to eight look best, pointing toward Thunder Moon, Poetic Flare and Chindit.

As for running style, I've widened the parameters slightly to give me a more workable sample size and there's a clearly favoured way of winning here...

...and that is to sit just off the pace. Leaders have fared poorly from both a win and place perspective and for winners you want to be on a prominent racer, whilst mid-division horses also tend to come through later to make the frame. The graphic below shows ho they have run on their last three outings...

Naamoos looks like the pace horse here and that's probably not going to do him any favours. On that basis, I'm going to rule him out here along with Bullace and Maximal, as I've just got a feeling they'll get dragged along too quickly.

At this point, I'm also very aware that ruling horses out this way might mean I overlook the winner, but I've now reduced my 13-runner field now to just eight ie...

  • Battleground
  • Chindit
  • Highland Avenue
  • La Barrosa
  • Lucky Vega
  • Mostahdaf
  • Poetic Flare
  • Thunder Moon

A quick check on the market shows I could probably have saved myself some time by just crossing the five longest priced horses off, but I assure that's purely coincidental. Now let's go back and look at the eight runners. Bookies will pay five places here, so whilst I'd like to find the winner, I'm also interested in finding a couple of E/W options if possible.

Our Instant Expert graphic now looks like this...

and whilst Lucky Vega is the sort to make the frame, I don't see him winning and I wouldn't want to be backing him E/W at 7/1, so he goes here leaving me with seven to consider.

Battleground won a 7f Listed contest and a Group 2 race over the same trip in back to back outings last summer, the first of which was the Chesham Stakes at this very meeting. He came back from nine months of to tackle a mile for the first time last month, when 13th of 14 in the 2,000 Guineas at Newmarket. He'd be entitled to come on for that run, but others are more proven on this quicker ground and at this trip.

Chindit was fifth in that 2,000 Guineas race, more than 15 lengths ahead of Battleground, but still a good four lengths behind the re-opposing winner Poetic Flare. There's a suggestion that he raced too far off the pace that day, but he was being riden by his usual jockey and they had won four of his other five starts, so maybe the instructions were wrong. That aside, he's a winner at Listed, Gr3 and Gr2 company, but might have to wait a little longer for a Gr1 prize.

Highland Avenue has never finished out of the first two home in all five starts since his debut just over six months ago. The hihlights of his short career so far have been his last two races with a win and runner-up berth in Listed contests, the latter being a half length defeat to Mostahdaf on soft ground at Sandown almost four weeks ago, but he was giving the winner 3lbs and they'll now re-oppose on equal terms, so I'd fancy him to overturn that deficit. As for winning this one, I'm doubtful, it's a huge step from losing a Listed contest to winning a Group 1.

La Barrosa has only made four starts before today, but has two wins so far, including a Group 3 last season at Newmarket, which was followed 203 days later by a 0.75 length defeat at the same track when tackling a mile for the first time in the Gr3 Craven Stakes. Since then he has been beaten by almost eight lengths on his Gr1 debut when probably not suited by the pace of the race nor the soft/heavy ground at the Curragh for the Irish 2,000 Guineas, but a return to quicker ground should see him closer today.

Mostahdaf is an unbeaten son of Frankel, who backed up a Class 5, 7f Novice success with a Class 2 win over a mile three weeks later. His third and final outing saw him tackle turf for the first time, as he won a 1m Listed contest at Sandown, where he finished stronger than Highland Avenue, but was carrying 3lbs less. After going 3 from 3 inside less than ten weeks and just doing enough in his last couple, it's tough to say what he's likely to be, but I just feel he'll need to step up again to stay ahead of Highland Avenue, never mind win here!

Poetic Flare is certainly the one to beat after winning the 2,000 Guineas trial at Leopardstown (Listed) in April despite coming off a 176-day absence before going on to win the 2,000 Guineas at Newmarket less than three weeks later and was only a short head away from completing the Guineas double at the Curragh last time out, denied only by his own stable mate. That was on Soft/Heavy ground and he has won on Good to Firm ground too, showing his versatility, he gets the mile readily enough and you can see why he's the favourite here, especially after seeing these head to head results against today's field over this trip...

Thunder Moon only raced three times as a 2 yr old, but landed a 7f Gr1 at the Curragh last September and was only beaten by 2.5 lengths when 3rd in the Gr1 Darley Dewhurst Stakes at Newmarket four weeks later, also over 7f. At that pint, you'd be thinking that if he got a mile, then similar levels of performance would ut him in the mix, but he was then off track for 203 days and was last home of 14 in the 2,000 Guineas, beaten by 23 lengths on his first crack at a mile and his first run on good to firm ground. He's sure to improve for having that run at trip/going as well as breaking a long absence, but I'm doubtful he can improve enough so quickly to land a real blow here.

Summary

The toolkit pointed to Chindit as the most likely winner here, whilst the form and write-ups point to Poetic Flare and I suspect they'll be the first two home here with the favourite just having too much for Chindit. The fav is 4/1 in places which seems reasonable, whilst the 9/1 about Chindit suggests he'd be worth an E/W bet.

Of the others I was considering, I think that Battleground & Mostahdaf would be the two I'd leave out of the five for the place, leaving me with Highland Avenue, La Barrosa and Thnder Moon to fight it out for minor honours. The first and last of that trio are 8/1 and 10/1 respectively and don't appeal to me as E/W bets, if I can get 9's about Chindit, but La Barrosa is available at 20/1 and I'm definitely interested in him at that sort of price.

Racing Insights, 14th June 2021

I hope you've all had a good weekend, I certainly enjoyed my day off, but now it's time to start looking to the week's racing again. We kick off on Monday, where 'feature of the day' is free access to the Pace tab for all readers for ALL races, including the following free 'races of the day'...

  • 3.05 Carlisle
  • 4.40 Kilbeggan
  • 6.00 Windsor
  • 6.30 Windsor
  • 6.40 Kilbeggan
  • 7.30 Windsor

The last of that list is the best of the UK races on offer, so today I'll focus on the 7.30 Windsor, an 8-runner, Class 3, 3yo+ Flat Handicap over 6f on Good to Firm ground worth £6,019 to one of these...

Form : Only Tinto and Han Solo Berger have failed to win any of their last five outings, whilst both Indian Creak and A Sure Welcome won last time out.

Class Movers : After winning LTO, Indian Creak now steps up a level, but Edraak, Tinto and Han Solo Berger all drop down from Class 2.

Course / Distance Form : All eight have won over today's trip and all bar Tinto and Han Solo Berger are previous winners here at Windsor with Edraak, Open Wide, Ivatheengine and Indian Creak all winning over 6f here at Windsor.

Days Since Run : All have raced in the last 45 days with only Edraak (44d) and Open Wide (45d) rested for more than 16 days.

Age / Sex : All eight are geldings ranging from 4 to 7 yrs old (2 x 4, 3 x 5, 1 x 6 and 2 x 7)

Trainer Form : Positives for Ivatheengine, Indian Creak, A Sure Welcome and Han Solo Berger. Negatives for Tinto and Open Wide.

Jockey Form : Positives for Edraak, Tinto, Ivatheengine and A Sure Welcome. Negatives for Open Wide and Concierge.

Weight / OR / SR spread : Just 10lbs separates the field on official ratings whilst our own SR figures ranger from 67 to 85 with a suggestion of a tight contest between Han Solo Berger (85) and Concierge (83)

At this point I'm often ready to 'eliminate some suspects from my enquiries' but aside from some doubts about Open Wide re: form, age and trainer/jockey negative icons, I think I'll keep all eight in my thoughts at least until I've done a brief overview of each, starting with joint top weight...

Edraak who had two wins and a place from his first three runs of 2021, but was 5th of 6 beaten by almost 11 lengths at Doncaster last time out. In his defence, he had been raised a class and 9lbs for winning here at this class, track and trip by three lengths in mid-April. He's clearly got ability, but that 9lb extra looks to have him pegged for now.

Tinto is the other joint top weight bearing a mark of 94, but he does have the benefit of a 3lb claimer reducing his burden to 9st 9lbs here. That effective mark of 81 is some 19lbs lower than his last wining mark, but that came 53 weeks and 18 races ago and he hasn't even made the frame in the last 10 of those defeats, despite his mark sliding from a career high of 105 to 95 last time out, when 7th of 9, beaten by over 7 lengths at Epsom last week. In his defence, that run of defeats have all been at Class 2 or higher and now effectively 4lbs lighter and once class lower than LTO and on favoured Gd to Fm ground, he might never have a better opportunity of at least making the frame.

Open Wide won here over C&D almost two years ago off a pound higher than today's mark and his last win was three starts ago over this trip at a higher grade off 87 at Kempton back in October. He has been close but not close enough in two runs since and with both yard and jockey not particularly great at this track, I'd want to look elsewhere today.

Ivatheengine has only raced six times in all and was a winner here over course and distance on his second outing. That was over two years ago, though and after that win, he only ran three times in 690 days. He won on his final run of 2020 (51 weeks ago), but has been 7th of 8 and last of 5 this year so far. His three wins from six suggest he's got something, but the lack of action allied to this year's results put me off.

Indian Creak won here over course and distance last time out, beating the re-opposing A Sure Welcome by three parts of a length. He's up 4lbs for that win, but useful claimer George Bass more than compensates with his 5lbs allowance meaning he should be competitive once more. The step up in class is the main area of doubt, though, as he's 0 from 10 at Class 3 or higher. I'd also suggest the ground would be a little on the quick side for him too.

A Sure Welcome has won both races either side of that runner-up finish behind Indian Creak, but a 4lb rise for a win over 5f here last week means he's effectively 6lbs worse off for the rematch, but is in great form, of course. I'd say he was much better on the A/W, having won just 3 of 26 on turf.

Concierge has been really busy so far this year and made seven appearances in less than 17 weeks from early Feb to late May. He was excellent when landing a Class 2 handicap over today's trip off a mark of 84 at Newbury a month ago, but less impressive when 9th of 16, 6 lengths off the pace, back down at this Class 3 level next/last time out at Haydock 16 days ago. That said, it was good to soft at Haydock (so probably almost soft) and he prefers this good to firm ground. He has won off this mark before, so he could bounce back here, but he'll have to be on his A-game at a track where he has a win and a place from two visits.

Han Solo Berger had been running well in mainly better races than this before coming unstuck at Epsom last time out, when beaten by the best part of seven lengths finishing 15th of 16 runners. He now steps back up to 6f for the first time in 26 runs stretching back to early October 2018 and I'm not convinced the extra yardage is going to help, even if he is down in class and eased a pound to a mark of 84, his lowest for almost a year.

That's an overview of recent performances, but Instant Expert can quickly show us their career records in similar conditions to the ones on offer here...

Ivatheengine certainly catches the eye above, albeit off small sample sizes, whilst Edraak also looks interesting. At this early stage of analysis, I often look at the blocks of red and I have concerns about Open Wide (going/class/distance), A Sure Welcome (going/distance), Concierge (distance) and Han Solo Berger (distance) I'm generally looking at those with red blocks based on 10+ runs and that should include Concierge at Class 3, but he has 3 wins and 2 places from 9 lower value Class 2 contests, so he's certainly not outclassed here.

The above numbers/colours might tell a different story when we focus purely on Flat handicap contests, though...

...where Indian Creak's performances at both course and trip are excellent. Tinto's mainly amber profile makes him of some interest too, but the ones I have doubts about from the first graphic haven't yet allayed my fears.

Draw Stats :

I use 7 to 9 runners as my guide here, to ensure a decent sample size of 31 past races, but treat stalls 8 & 9 as one entity at 4 wins / 9 places from 30...

What I take from the above is that stalls 6 and 7 have performed poorest, but I don't think there's really a massive draw bias here under today's conditions. Don't get me wrong, I'd rather be in boxes 1-5 than 6 or 7, but I'm not sure the real difference is huge.

Pace Stats : 

This however is a different kettle of fish and whilst leaders almost win as often as you'd expect (IV = 0.91) and have a great E/W record, the place to sit here is at the back or mid-division if you want to win. The interesting thing for me is the failure of those who race prominently just off the pace. Over 40% of the runners race prominently in these events, under the misapprehension that you need to be handy on this track, but they've only recorded 21% of the winners...

So, what we're probably after is a horse drawn 1 to 5 who likes to be held up? You'd expect so, but let's look at how pace and draw have interacted in our sample of races...

As you'd expect, most of the green is at the left hand end of the graphic, but those drawn centrally have a good chance of winning from the front and someone has to lead! We can look back over our eight runners' four most recent efforts and see how they normally run. We know where they're drawn, so we can easily drop them onto that heatmap as follows...

Summary

Based on everything above you can make a decent argument for and against all of these and it could turn out to be a very interesting contest, but the three I'd want to take against the field would (alphabetically) be Edraak, Han Solo Berger & Indian Creak. I fancy it being a battle between the former and the latter with Indian Creak just edging out Edraak and Hans Solo Berger being my E/W pick, if prices permit.

I'm sure that A Sure Welcome will be popular, but he's worse off at the weights with my pick and there's also the danger of Tinto running a big race too, but for me it's Indian Creak / Edraak / Han Solo Berger.

I've now (6pm, Sunday) had my first look at the market and Indian Creak is a 4/1 shot and I'm happy with that. Edraak is the current 3/1 fav, whilst HSB is worth a small E/W punt at 11/1,as possibly could Tinto be at the same price.

Racing Insights, 12th June 2021

Last piece of the week from me and Saturday's free assistance comes in the guise of the excellent Trainer/Jockey combo report, whilst those looking for some free race cards can tuck into these...

  • 1.35 Sandown
  • 2.20 Hexham
  • 3.05 York
  • 3.55 Chester
  • 4.10 Limerick
  • 5.15 Limerick

And we're remaining at York for a small-field, competitive-looking Class 1 contest aka the 3.05 York, a 4-runner Listed contest for 4yo+ runners over 1m6f on good to firm ground. £22,684 is the prize on offer going to one of this quartet...

Only Red Verdon lacks a win from the last five UK races but he's the only course and distance winner here. All four raced in Class 1 company last time out, all bar Ranch Hand are previous winners here at York whilst Roberto Escobar is the only one yet to win at this trip. They've all raced in the last five weeks and bottom weight Makawee is best off at the weights based on (handicap marks) by 5 to 7lbs, whilst the Geegeez SR figures have Red Verdon shading it.

Ranch Hand is the highest rated here and carries top weight and comes here in great form. He signed off his 2020 Flat campaign by landing a 2m Listed contest at Newmarket back in September before a couple of efforts over hurdles (inc a Class 4 in over 2m1f) before bedding down for the winter.

Since returning in March, he has landed a pair of Class 2 2m races on the A/W (he's 4/4 on the A/W) then finished 6 lengths off the winner in a Group 3 race over an inadequate 1m4f before an excellent run next/last time out to finish second behind Lismore in the Group 3 Henry II Stakes at Sandown (2m) 16 days ago. The trip should be fine, but the ground might be a bit quick and he's better on artificial surfaces but jockey Oisin Murphy is 9 from 43 (21.4% SR) here in Class 1 races at York over the last five seasons.

Red Verdon won a Listed race at Doncaster almost a year ago and followed that up by winning a French Group 2 race a month later, the latter under today's jockey, Frankie Dettori. Sadly that win at Longchamps was his last and he's now on a run of 11 defleats, admittedly mainly in better races than this and was well beaten back at Longchamps (Gr2) last time out less than three weeks ago.

I do like this horse, but he needs to bounce back now in a technically "easier" contest. The trip will suit him and he won a Gr 3 over course and distance here in July 2019, he won't mind the quicker ground and in Frankie Dettori he has a jockey who consistently wins more than 1 in 4 at Class 1.

Roberto Escobarr is worst off at the weights and with just four runs under his belt, is clearly the least experienced here. In his defence he won here on his second outing (C5 Novice), before finishing a creditable sixth here in the Gr2 Great Voltigeur last August. He then wasn't seen for 262 days before returning in a 15 length defeat in Listed company at Ascot and now will need to come on for that run. He has the scope to improve, he's unexposed, has very few miles on the clock, but this will be the quickest ground he has encountered and he's never gone beyond 1.4f before.

Makawee is a 6yr old mare carrying bottom weight and is technically well in by up to half a stone. She has raced twice already this season, going down by a short head in Listed company and then by 3.5 lengths in a Gr 3 here over corse and distance last month. She's a consistent sort who has made the frame in 11 of 24 starts, but her issue (as already proved this season) is that she often tends to get close without winning and has only converted those 11 places into 4 wins. The trip will be fine but she has a poor record here at York and a worse one in decent races, winning just 1 of 17 higher than Class 4. Sure to give her best again, but it's not usually enough.

Relevant career stats in a nutshell...

For the draw stats, I've expanded the going to Good / Good to Firm and the field size to 3-5 runners to get a better sample size, but I'm not massively convinced about draw stats over 1m6f if I'm entirely honest. I'm of the school of thought that says you've plenty of time to combat a draw over such a trip and if there's only four of you running, how far adrift can you actually be drawn?

That said, some stalls have fared better than others, as you can see here...

Why stalls 2 and 3 have all the glory is unclear, but you can't argue with facts, I suppose (and that's me telling myself off!) and this is good news for Roberto Escobar & Red Verdon, whilst the pace stats based on the same parameters suggest being held up would be the best tactic...

We know how our horses have been drawn and we also know how they tend to run, because we log the running style of every horse in every race and here's how these four have raced in their last two outings...

When we look at our unique pace/draw heatmap...

...it unsurprisingly favours hold-up horses drawn mid to low, as it combines the pace stats with those wins from stalls 2 and 3. We can then overlay that running style graphic onto the heatmap to get the following prediction...

Summary

Makawee is the favourite at priced ranging from 6/4 to 9/4 and based on the weight being carried and the numbers on her form line, I can see why. Yet closer inspection has showed she doesn't win often enough, has a poor record at Class 3 or higher and has tried and failed at York many ties, so I can't be backing her at those odds.

Roberto Escobarr is worst off at the weights and has achieved the least so far. I'm not saying he won't go on to win Class 1 races, but I'm not sure it'll be this one. Up in trip on faster ground and with a tendency to go off quickly, I fear he'll do too much too soon and as 5/2 second fav offers little value to me.

In fact it's the outsiders of the field that interest me most and I'm taking the 9/2 Red Verdon to best the 3/1 Ranch Hand here.

Ranch Hand is in fine form, stays all day and has a course specialist on his back. If he handles the quicker ground, he should give a good account of himself, but I'm hoping that's as second fiddle to Red Verdon. He is admittedly on a long losing run, but generally runs in better company than this, he's a course and distance winner, he has won on good to firm, has a good draw and pace/draw make-up and will be ridden by the King of the Class 1 races, Frankie Dettori. 9/2 in a four-horse race has to be worth a quid or two, win lose or draw!

Racing Insights, 11th June 2021

Crossbar rattling today, as 6/1 shot Typhoon Ten was a runner-up for the second time in a fortnight. Overnight favourite Muscika drifted badly in the betting and was well beaten.

Attention now turns to Friday's racing, where the Horses for Courses report is the feature of the day and our free races are as follows...

  • 2.45 Sandown
  • 3.30 York
  • 4.25 Fairyhouse
  • 4.35 York
  • 6.50 Aintree
  • 8.30 Aintree

I have no qualifiers on my settings for the , so it's back to the free races I go and the best of the six is the earlier of the two at York. So today's race in focus will be a a 7-runner, Class 2, 3yo+ Fillies handicap over 6f on Good to Firm ground. It's worth £17,524 to the winner and here's the card and some associated stats for the 3.30 York...

All bar Mid Winster have at won at least one of their last five with Mejthaam being the only LTO winner and she now comes here for her handicap debut here but she steps up three classes. Brazen Belle also steps up three classes, whilst it's a two-grade rise for Shepherds Way, Noorban and Ballintoy Harbour, who is having her second crack at handicap racing today.

With Gale Force Maya dropping down from Class 2, only Mid Winster actually ran in this grade last time out! All seven have raced in the past month and the age spread is 3-5. The weight is much wider with a huge 25lbs separated top and bottom weights, partly due to the 8lb weight allowance for 3yr olds here. The Geegeez SR ratings suggest a tight contest with just 8pts separating the first four ranked.

Gale Force Maya shoulders top weight of 10-0 back in handicap company having been well beaten in a Listed race LTO. She recorded her highest winning mark of 85 in the run before that Listed race, but runs off 92 here. She's 4/8 on Gd to Fm, 5/13 at this trip and 4/14 under today's jockey, but has never won higher than Class 4 and I think she might just be too high in the weights here.

Mid Winster has a modest 3 from 22 record to date and last won almost 9 months and six races ago at Class 5 over 5f, but has been knocking on the door with some solid efforts this term (3424). She was beaten by a length and a half off this mark at this grade LTO, but is now up in trip. She'll be in the mix, but she's better at 5f.

Shepherds Way ran well on her seasonal reappearance at Thirsk at the the start of May, getting within two lengths of the winner despite being off the track for 199 days. She then toiled on softer ground at Carlisle next/last time out and a step up in trip and class probably puts paid to her chances here.

Noorban won on debut last August and was immediately pitched into the Gr2 Lowther Stakes on her second outing where she had a respectable mid-division finish, before two lesser efforts including finishing 6th of 13 on handicap debut off a mark of 84. She returned from 196 days off to finish 8th at Thirsk in early May, but has since won over 5f off a mark of 80 and was a runner-up LTO off today's mark of 84. She's up in both trip and class here, but is definitely in with a shout thanks to the age allowance.

Ballintoy Harbour has hit the ground running with decent efforts in all four starts to date. She was only beaten by 2.75 lengths on debut before winning back to back Class 5 Novice contests either side of a 242-day break from mid-August to mid-April. She then stepped up in class to finish third on handicap debut, 1.75 lengths off the pace, at Redcar at the start of this month. She's clearly progressing nicely and runs off an unchanged mark here, but she's up two classes and tries 6f for the first time.

Mejthaam has got steadily better in four starts so far, finishing 10th, 4th, 2nd and then 1st all at Class 5 and all on the all-weather. An opening handicap mark of 80 isn't particularly onerous, but she's up in class considerably (+3) and has never raced on turf or a quick surface. She's unexposed, but might just need that first run on grass.

Brazen Belle is a modest Class 5 handicapper if truth be told, hence her mark in the mid-70's and despite a career-best performance to win off 71 at Wolverhampton two starts ago, her flat form is poor having made the frame just once in her last seven starts. She was beaten by 4.5 lengths off this mark last time even with the assistance of a jockey claiming 5lbs and up three classes here with no claim, she's destined to struggle, I'd have thought.

Based on the above, all seven have questions to answer, but with the exception of Brazen belle, I think that any one of them could land this based on the evidence (or lack of) above, so we need more clues.

Instant Expert...

That's the general career stats under today's conditions across all races in all codes and it's good to see five winners on this quicker ground. The top two on the card have tried and failed several times in this grade, but Gale Force Maya's five class 2 defeats include four placed finishes and she's good at this trip.

And now considering purely Flat handicap form...

...where if anything, Gale Force Maya looks even stronger.

Draw & Pace stats...

We don't really have enough workable data under the draw/pace tabs for my liking for this type of race, so I'm going to use the Query Tool as a point of reference here, based on the following parameters...

Using those gives me a bigger sample sample to work with and here are the draw and pace stats from such races...

We've still, admittedly, only seven races to work from, but all the winners came from stall 2 or higher and the place stats would re-affirm that stall 1 isn't the best place to be. Stalls 2 & 3 are the best of the low draws, whilst out wide in 7 could be useful too. As for pace, it pays to lead if you want to win, but those tucking in behind the leaders tend not to fare too well. So, when I look at pace and draw together, I think I'm going to want stalls 2,3 and 8 wanting to lead or be held up and this is how this bunch have raced in recent times...

Brazen Belle is an out and out leader, but tends to not only get caught bit fails to even make the frame. Ballintoy Harbour and Gale Force Maya look like the ones most likely to take her on for the lead and whilst the latter isn't drawn well in box 1, Shepherd Way will be held up so GFM could drift off the rail into the vacated space alongside Brazen Belle. Ballintoy Harbour might end up doing too much if she approaches it like her usual 5f before being asked to go further.

The bottom three in the draw will look to sit off the pace and that hasn't always worked out here at York and probably wouldn't be a bad thing if Mid Winster made an effort to go after the leaders here on the quicker ground.

Summary

It's an interestingly tight-looking contest with no standout performer to hang my hat on, but I'd initially spilt the field and say I'm less keen on Shepherds Way (too much to do an up in trip/class), Mejthaam (big class rise and 1st time on turf) and Brazen Belle who I just don't think is good enough.

That leaves me with four and they still all have questions to answer....

Ballintoy Harbour is up two classes and tackled 6f for the first time.
Gale Force Maya isn't ideally drawn and probably carries too much weight.
Mid Winster hasn't won for a good while, has a poor Class 2 record, hasn't won on ground this quick and is better over 5f.
Noorban is up in both trip and class and a mid-div pozzy won't help.

To be honest, any of the four could win and they could come home in any order, but I'm leaning towards Gale Force Maya and Noorban as my two against the field at odds of 5/1 and 9/2 respectively. Those prices might well offer us a bit of value, but if you are playing this race, I'd advise caution on staking and just use your loose change here.

If anything, the sensible advice is to just put your money, your feet up and watch the race with the beverage of your choice, but who likes being sensible?

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