Racing Insights, 10th March 2021

Well, we got the first three home again, but unfortunately my 1-2-3 finished 2-3-1, as the money that came in for Dingo Dollar proved to be spot on, as he powered to a 10 length victory, as the 13/8 favourite.

Wednesday's free feature is the Trainer Statistics Report, whilst our free races will be as follows...

  • 2.20 Lingfield
  • 2.25 Wexford
  • 3.10 Catterick
  • 5.05 Wexford
  • 5.25 Catterick

And I think we'll look at the Trainer Statistics Report today, focusing in particular on the 30-day handicap form of Karl Burke, who has three runners on Wednesday...

We start with Significantly who runs in the 3.55 Lingfield, a 6f, Class 3 handicap for 3yo's. Clifford Lee takes the ride on this 3yo colt and from Karl's 5 from 15 record in handicaps over the last 30 days, there has been...

  • 1 win from 2 at Lingfield
  • no runs at Class 3
  • 3 from 12 for males
  • 4 from 8 for 3 yr olds
  • 3 from 6 for Clifford Lee
  • 1 from 6 over 6f
  • 4 from 8 in 3yo only races

Significantly has been running consistently well ever since debut last June, making the frame in seven of his eight starts and breaking his duck by winning a Class 2, 6f maiden at Newcastle last time out. he made all that day, but has been known to dwell at the start. This is a simpler task on paper, but this is his first crack at a handicap.

As you can see, not only is the yard in good form, they also have positive icons for their record here at this venue, whilst jockey Clifford Lee scores highly himself for current form and past performance here at Lingfield. The horse hasn't raced in over 20 weeks, which might be a concern, but he does drop in class. He's second in the weights on handicap debut, so the assessor must think a little bit about him and this is also a Polytrack, as his two previous A/W outings have been on the Tapeta at Newcastle.

Instant Expert doesn't tell us too much...

...but does highlight his win LTO quite nicely.

We know that he's drawn in stall 3 and that he made all last time out, however his default pace rating is somewhere between mid-division and prominent. The stats from precious similar 8-runner handicaps suggests that a high draw is beneficial, not withstanding the anomaly of stall 6...

...whilst the pace draw heat map suggests that his best chance will come if he tries to lead like he did last time out...

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...although a closer inspection of the whole field suggests there might be shoot-out early doors paving the way for a finisher and if he runs to his average running style, Significantly could still be well placed...

*

Next up is Superiority, a 4yr old filly, who goes in the 4.45 Kempton, a Class 6, 6f handicap for 4yo+ runners and this 4 yo filly will be ridden by Pierre-Louis Jamin. If we look back to Karl Burke's 5 from 15 with handicappers in the last month...

  • none have run at Kempton
  • 1 winner from 2 at Class 6
  • 2 from 3 for females
  • none of the four 4yo runners have won
  • Pierre-Louis is 2 from 4
  • 1 win from 4 over 6f
  • and just 1 from 7 in 4yo+ races

This 4 yr old filly is still a maiden after 8 starts, but has finished 22552 since going handicapping and was only beaten by three quarters of a length last time out in another Class 6, 6f handicap. That was a 14-runner affair up at Newcastle, where she just missed out after the lead changed hands several times. She's up a pound for that run, but the booking of Pierre-Louis with his 5lb claim effectively makes her 4lbs better off today, but she has been off the track for 113 days now and might well need the run, but certainly has ability at this level/weight.

Her racecard entry pretty much confirms what I've been saying and also tells us that she's drawn in stall 10 of 11, we'll see what that means shortly...

Pierre-Louis doesn't have a great record at this venue overall, but he too is in good form of late.

 

We're drawn in stall 10, of course and that, sadly hasn't been a happy hunting ground in past races here, where stalls 2 to 4 look favoured...

It could, of course, be worse, she could have been in the ninth box, but 10 is pretty dire. To win from there, the stats suggest her only real hope is to get out quickly and try to assert herself from the start and she has raced prominently/led in three of her last four runs, including leading for much of her last outing. There doesn't seem to be a natural leader in this pack...

...so Superiority might well be able to grab the bull by the horns and go for it.

*

Our final runner to consider is the delightfully-named 3 yr old filly, Omany Amber, who runs in the 6.15 Kempton, another Class 6 handicap, but this one os for 3 yr olds over a mile. Pierre-Louis is in the saddle again and the relevant stats here from the yard's recent 5 from 15 return are...

  • no runs here at Kempton
  • 1 from 2 at Class 6
  • 2/3 for females
  • 4 from 8 for 3 yr olds
  • 2 from 4 for Pierre-Louis
  • 2 from 3 over a mile
  • and 4 from 8 in 3yo races

Omany Amber comes here in cracking form, having won a Class 6 seller over 1m0.5f at Wolverhampton 25 days ago and then a Class 6 handicap at this class/trip at Southwell last Thursday with Pierre-Louis in the saddle. She won by a length off a mark of 54 that day and with no punishment for winning an Apprentice handicap, she goes off the same mark, but the jockey can actually use his 5lbs claim today, which could be very useful! The only thing here is that this is the filly's Polytrack debut, but after back to back wins on Tapeta and Fibresand, there's every hope she takes to the surface here too.

Her position on the racecard is as follows...

... telling us she's carrying very little weight here and is bottom of the weights both pre- and post-jockey claims. She's drawn way out in stall 12 of 13, which may be an issue, but we can check those stats later. Her two recent Class 6 wins are shown below as well as her distance win...

and also the indication that there's no rise in weight here. As for that stall 12 of 13 draw, I won't lie and say it's great, but it could have been far worse...

...as the high-centre (7 to 10) is the pace to avoid, as shown beautifully here...

...but there's no disputing that she could have been better drawn. The inference from the pace/draw heat map is that she'd be better off trying to seize the initiative by grabbing an early lead...

However, based on this field's last four runs, there's no obvious pace angle at play, leading to a Geegeez suggestion of a falsely run race, because of this...

...but Omany's best two runs have been her last two and they've both been pretty recent under two different jockeys at two slightly different trips at two different tracks. Karl Burke's shrewd enough to know all of this and it's my feeling that the team will approach this the way they have tackled the last two and over two races, our pace/draw heatmap looks very different indeed...

...making her a real player here.

Summary

Three Karl Burke runners, two at Kempton, one at Lingfield. Two at Class 6, one at Class 3. Two race over 6f, one over a mile. Two three year olds and a four year old. Two fillies and a colt. Two rides for Pierre-Louis Jamin, one for Clifford Lee. Lots of shared similarities here, but what of their individual chances?

In the 3.55 Lingfield, I've got Significantly as fourth best in my assessment of the race. I think he's going to need the run, but at 10/1, I'd not dissuade you from having an E/W punt on him going well fresh. I like the 4/1 Secret Handsheikh here in this one, but Bedford Flyer was another 10/1 shot that caught my eye.

Over at Kempton, the 4.15 sees Superiority not living up to the name in my eyes. She's probably about fifth of sixth best for me and although 10/1 is a nice price about her, I fear she'll just fall short of the places here, but worth looking at next time out, as of course will Significantly be if not placing at Lingfield.

Karl's best chance for me comes with the final runner, Omany Amber, who I do like at 6/1. It's a pretty open race and I'd expect the likes of Woodview (10/3), Doctor Churchill (7/1) and Tick Toch (8/1) to all be on the premises, but Omany Amber is the one to beat for me.

Racing Insights, 9th March 2021

Silken Moonlight ran an absolute blinder this afternoon compared with past form and was unlucky in the end, saving me from a touch of embarrassment.

However, I'm happy that the process of elimination led me to a 10/1 winner (£1 E/W, last of the big spenders!) and also that Instant Expert perfectly highlighted Champion Chase's place credentials, as he finished third at 15/2.

Tuesday's free feature is The Shortlist report, whilst our free races of the day will be...

  • 1.35 Exeter
  • 3.00 Clonmel
  • 3.20 Newcastle
  • 3.40 Exeter

Only one horse interested me off The Shortlist report, whilst our free races featured two maiden hurdles and a novice hurdle, races I try not to get involved in. Hobson's Choice, therefore, is another tight-looking 6-runner affair aka the 3.20 Newcastle.

It's a decent enough standard, though, as it's a Class 3 handicap chase over 2m7.5f on Good to Soft (Soft in places) ground. It's worth £7,018 to the winner and there are some names you might recognise on this racecard...

First glance suggests She'sASuperMack is likely to be popular based on form and a drop in class, but her yard and jockey have negative recent course stats according to the icons. The 8 yr old is only ranked fifth on our ratings though, so it might not be a shoo in. Let's check them all out, shall we?

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Blaklion is one we've all heard of. He won the Gr1 RSA Chase at the Cheltenham Festival five years ago and won the Gr3 Becher Handicap Chase at Aintree on December 2017, but has been on the wane since with the latter end of his career punctuated by long absences. Since April 2018, he has raced just five times and had spells of 224 days, 623 days and 118 days off the track. That latest break was ended at Warwick just 11 days ago when he finished 7th of 9, beaten by 33 lengths. In his day, thid would be a walk in the park, but his best days are long gone. He could win here as he gets the ground and the trip, his yard and rider are in good form and this is the lowest grade race he's contested since his third start back in September 2014, but others look more likely here.

Dingo Dollar unseated when being well beaten over hurdles at last year's Cheltenham Festival, then was rested for 31 weeks before finishing 12th of 13 (bt by 61L) in a Uttoxeter Class 2 hurdle, before returning to chasing next/last time out. He was always towards the back that day at Aintree and was eventually pulled up, completing a fairly miserable year for him. That said, he's now on his lowest chase mark since winning at Newbury back in December 2017, he stays (and has won) further than this and the ground will be no issue here. Shortlist material, I think, on debut for new yard, dropping down in class.

Count Meribel is 2 from 9 over fences, although hasn't shaped well in this sphere since finishing as a runner-up in a Listed contest at Carlisle back in November 2019. he was then 6th (bt by 16L0 in a Gr3 at Cheltenham the same month, before failing to complete his next two runs. He was then beaten by 17 lengths (7th of 10) over2m4f at Newbury in November. Since then, he has ran just once, tackling a 3m0.5f Class 3 hurdle at Doncaster just after Christmas and failed to complete again. I don't think he stays the trip and is likely to be nearer the back than the front if he actually finishes.

She'sASupermack is clearly the form horse of this bunch, but the 8 yr old mare has yet to prove herself beyond 2m4.5f. At 2m4f/2m4.5f, she has four wins and three places from seven starts. However, she was 6th of 7 (bt by 20L) in a Class 2 hurdle over today's trip and 10th of 11 (bt by 32L) at Class 4 in back to back runs in June/July 2019 and has been running at her more favoured trip since.

Glittering Love had been running fairly well in 2020, without hitting the heights of 2018/19 when he won four chases on the bounce in the mud at trips ranging from 2m4f to 3m1f. He was a soft ground faller on a comeback from 287 days off track here just before Christmas 2019, but finished 323 in his next three outings, only beaten by 13L, 2,25L and 6.25L. He was, however, disappointing last time out when 4th of 6, 25 lengths off the pace at Ayr in mid-December and will need to bounce back after a 12-week break if he's to land this one. Track/trip/going/jockey all positive and if running to his best, has every chance off his lowest chase mark since his last win.

Bafana Blue is another who had a strong 2019, but probably ended up too high in the weights to continue the run of form. His mark went from 101 to 130 after finishes of 1412111. Weight aside, this trip is probably a little on the sharp side for him too. He stays all day and his six of his seven career chase victories have been at three miles and beyond. He has won on this going or worse, but does prefer quicker ground and he has a good record in this grade, but I'm not fancying his chances here.

Not much on offer in the shape of recent form, aside from the likely favourite, but what about historical performance? Instant Expert will hopefully have the key...

I'd say that IE shows the bottom half of the card in a better light than the top, although Blaklion is 4 from 20 at higher grades than this.

From a pace perspective over 24 similar races, almost half (11) have been won by those racing prominently, leaders have won 8 (33.3%), hold-up horses have 4 (16.6%) victories, but mid-division runners have won just 1 of 24, despite 17 of 145 (11.7%) of runners racing that way.

Leaders/prominence is where you want to be here under today's conditions, so let's see how these six are likely to break out...

From that graphic, you'd be happy with the race positioning of the first three, Bafana Blue is borderline, but I'm not keen on the way the bottom two look set to approach this.

Summary

From analysing the form, Instant Expert and the pace setup of the race, there's no obvious winner here.

Bafana Blue scored poorly on form, but well on IE and so-so on pace, but interestingly now runs off a mark lower than his last chase win.
Blaklion isn't the Blaklion we all grew to love, he's getting on now (I'm not fond of horses racing at this age whilst on an obvious decline) and other fare better in all aspects.
Count Meribel has the ideal running style, but isn't in good form and didn't score that well on IE
Dingo Dollar is also on a very workable mark now, but needs an uplift in form on yard debut, will race prominently which is good, but doesn't seem massively suited to conditions.
Glittering Love has it all in his locker to win here, he gets the trip and the ground, he'll be up with the pace, but just needs to roll the clock back a bit form-wise, I'd have loved him to be a couple or more pounds lower in the weights.
She'sASupermack has the best recent form, but is unproven at the trip. She might also end up with too much work to do late on and wasn't great off this mark last time out.

Finding a winner or even a bet here is likely to come down to who has the fewest negatives about them and can be backed a value-ish price and to that end, I'm drawn more towards the 4/1 Glittering Love than the 9/4 fav.

Dingo Dollar for third, possibly?

Racing Insights, 8th March, 2021

Saturday's 1-2-3 finished 3-2-1, as Cloth Cap made light of being badly off at the weights. He made all and won rather easily if truth be told. So, close but not close enough for my liking, but we get to do it all over gain for Monday, where 'feature of the day' is free access to the pace tab for ALL races for ALL readers irrespective of membership status. We also offer everyone a full look at a selection of races for free every day and for Monday, they are...

  • 1.20 Leopardstown
  • 2.20 Leopardstown
  • 2.45 Wetherby
  • 3.15 Wetherby

The only handicap of the four above is the first of the two English races, so today's focus will be on the 2.45 Wetherby. It's a 10-runner, Class 5, Novice Handicap Chase over 1 mile 7.5 furlongs on good to soft ground and the top prize is a paltry £2,989.

I don't normally get too involved in these novice handicap chases, but there were plenty of reasons for avoiding the other three races.

Pure Country is a lightly-raced (2 x A/W, 3 x hrd) six year old gelding, whose best run came on his debut in October 2018, finishing 3rd (bt by 2L) of 13 over 1m4f at Kempton and it has been pretty much downhill since. Has been beaten by 50L, 15L and 39L over hurdles so far and unless a switch to chasing suddenly unearths some massive potential, I'm not expecting this one to live up to his father's superstar status.

Dexcite looks like one that punters might get dexcited (sorry!) about here. He won a couple of hurdles contests at similar trips to this and was second in a Class 4 handicap chase two starts ago on soft ground. He was going well in his latest run too but fell at the last when not far off the pace and a similar run to those last two would have him involved here.

Shady Oaks is still a maiden after 16 efforts over fences, but looked like his time was coming with back to back decent runs at Southwell inside a week in late November/early December, but struggled last out when dropped down to Class 4 over 2m4.5f on soft ground. We've better ground here, the drop in trip should help and he's down in class again. Could this be the day?

Rollerruler is another class dropping maiden, but was a runner-up at this grade two starts ago. He was beaten by just over five lengths over 2m on heavy ground at Carlisle, tiring in the mud. This is slightly shorter, the ground is quicker and he has been eased a pound by the assessor. Not one you'd instantly think "winner" about, but he's every chance in a poor race.

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Follow Your Fire has actually won a race, getting home by a neck in a 2m4f C4 soft ground hurdle at Sedgefield five starts ago. Unfortunately, the weight he gained for that win has seen him finish 85L, 57L, 14L and 42L off the pace since and now tries the bigger obstacles for the first time off a mark 2lbs lower than his hurdle rating.

Gris de Pron was a runner-up beaten by 1.5 lengths over 2m3.5f (C4) and then won over 2m3f (C5) a dozen days later in late August 2019, both over hurdles but it hasn't gone well for him since. He had a 113-day break in late 2020 and returned to action and chasing (where he's now 0/13) at Southwell just before Christmas, where he probably needed the run, made a few errors and was pulled up before the last fence. Nearer the back than the front for me.

Go To Court is a 13-race maiden (6 x hrd, 7 x chs) who was pulled up in her last start just before Christmas 2020. In her other five efforts over fences in 2020 since moving to Joanne Foster's yard, she ran creditably but without much joy, losing each of the five by an average of around 16 lengths. I'd expect a similar result today and I'd guess her usual 5th or 6th place might be as good as she could hope for here.

Champion Chase is a fanciful bit of wishful thinking, I'd guess. No wins in nine over hurdles and 19 over fences, it's getting to a point where you think he'll retire a maiden, but he did run well a few times in early 2019 to early 2020, finishing 2243322, suggesting he could be one of those who place regularly without winning. He's actually made the frame in 10 of 19 starts over fences and was a decent enough third at Ffos Las last time out. It might say more about the quality of the race than the horse himself when I say he might be a possible E/W bet here, despite running from 4lbs out of the handicap.

Silken Moonlight also runs from 4lbs out of the handicap and has also failed to win any of her previous 14 starts, including 5 on the Flat, 3 on the A/W, 5 over hurdles and a bumper! She makes a chasing bow here, probably because it's the only thing she hasn't tried (and failed at!) yet. Her last three runs have been a Class 5, heavy ground 2m5.5f handicap hurdle, a 2m 0.5f Class 5 bumper and and Class 6, 1m6f A/W handicap. She has been beaten by 24L, 11L and 29L in those three and now is asked to tackle a Class 5 chase : she probably doesn't know whether she's coming or going, but I'm fairly confident she's doing nothing here.

And finally (most likely!), we have Rann of Kutch, who is another maiden mare making a chasing bow from out of the handicap after little joy elsewhere. 6th of 8 (67L) in a bumper was followed by defeats of 84L, 40L and 62L over hurdles to get her a handicap mark of 73, since when she has failed to complete both of her handicap runs. Not finishing last here will be deemed success, I think.

*

I accept that the above is a fairly damning critique of the runners here, but it has to be said sometimes. This is, unfortunately, standard pre-Cheltenham fare. Poor horses thrown together in poor contests, so why do we look at them? Quite simply, because one of these horses will actually go on and win a race and two others will make the frame. Admittedly, if they could all lose, I'm sure they'd find a way of doing that, but let's see if we can find something the market and other punters can't.

*

I'd normally turn to Instant Expert here to see which horses are most likely to relish conditions, but when the group has made the frame just 30 times from 157 runs (19.1% SR), winning just 6 times (3.82%) between them, we might not get much from IE, but perhaps the place side of things might help us whittle them down...

Still not a lot to be gleaned, even after I opened up the going, distance and field criteria to increase sample sizes, but Champion Chase's place credentials look decent from the above, whilst Pure Country, Dexcite, Rollerruler and Go To Court at least have some colour other than red on their form.

What about pace? Might that help us out? I hope so!

So, you want to lead or race in mid-division ideally, although most runner try (and fail) to win from a prominent or held-up position. Shady Oaks looks set to lead them out here and take it on alone. The question is whether hew can create a big enough lead to hold on too and whether he'll have the stamina to repel opposition late on.

Well, he stays 2m3f and beyond, made the frame over 2m5f at Class 4 on good to soft last November at Southwell and might just fancy his chances here.

Summary

Honestly, I'm not particularly enthused by any of these runners and here's where the Geegeez adage of "there might not be a bet in every race" rings truer than ever.

And normally I'd say walk away, but in the spirit of the daily piece and seeing a job through to its conclusions, let me start by narrowing the field by telling that I DON'T like Go To Court, Gris de Pron, Pure Country, Rann of Kutch or Silken Moonlight based on what we've seen above.

So, that's half the field gone.

I noticed that Dexcite was the 5/2 favourite here, so he's gone too! I'm not backing 10yr olds at that price in a poor race after a fall last time out and no great chase form, you might as well back a longshot for a place. That leaves us with four : Champion Chase, Follow Your Fire, Rollerruler and Shady Oaks. They're all of a similar standard/quality, any of the four could make/miss the frame, but if I was having a bet here, I'd want a nice price for an E/W punt on one/some/all of them, depending on your own risk aversion!

Follow Your Fire is the longest at 10/1 and Shady Oaks next at 8's. I don't play E/W below 8's, so if I'm having a bet here, the process of elimination leads me to these two.

Racing Insights, 6th March 2021

We're coming towards the end of the first week of March and Cheltenham is on the horizon, but there's still plenty of racing before the main event. Saturday has six meetings across the UK/Ireland including six Class 1 contests. To assist us in our quest for winners, our free feature of the day is the Trainer Jockey Combo Stats report and our free races are as follows...

  • 1.40 Navan
  • 2.36 Lingfield
  • 2.40 Kelso
  • 2.55 Doncaster
  • 3.50 Kelso
  • 5.15 Doncaster

...and I think I'll tackle one of the day's Class 1 races. Only six are set to run in the race I've chosen, but five of them could win the 2.40 Kelso, so that makes it interesting. the race itself is a Listed Chase which will be around 80yds shy of three miles after rail movements. Six are expected to go to post on good to soft ground in the hope of landing the £25,628 top prize.

Here's the card...

A good quality race here, even if only six are declared. Plenty of experience and ability on show, all bar one have a win in their four starts and out Geegeez ratings top three are only separated by 6pts. I like to standardise them to 100, so in effect the top 3 are 100, 98.2 and 96.4, so a tight call there.

Lake View Lad when landing a soft ground Grade 2 chase at Aintree over 3m1.5f, despite having been off the track for over ten months. This was by far his best run, but was unable to back it up nine weeks later when he could only manage 5th of 6 at Sandown a month ago, beaten by 78 lengths in another Grade 2 contest. The Aintree run says he still has something about him, but that latest effort makes me want to look elsewhere, especially off top weight, where he has a few pounds to find on the likes of Aso and Definitly Red.

Cloth Cap won really well last time out, landing a 3m2f Grade 3 chase by some ten lengths at Newbury back in November with the first-time cheekpieces seeming to do their job, after having had a decent warm-up making the frame at Cheltenham the month before. A repeat of that LTO run puts him right in the mix here, but he's probably at least half a stone out in the weights for me, so he's going to have go some.

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Definitly Red won this race last year and was then sent back to his shed for eight months. he reappeared at Wetherby on Hallowe'en and had a bit of a nightmare trailing home 8th of 10 in a 3m0.5f Grade 2 contest, some 80 lengths off the pace. He then needed a decent effort next time out, but fell at Newcastle four weeks later in a Listed handicap chase over today's trip and he hasn't raced since. Fitness and ability will have to be taken on trust after a 14-week break and I think others might be better suited here.

Two For Gold has an impressive 8 wins and 3 places from 15 starts (4w, 3p from 8 over fences!) and just about hung on to make all when winning over 2m4f at Warwick LTO almost three weeks ago in a career-best effort. The way he hung on and his overall chase record will make him popular here, but he only beat the re-opposing Aso by a neck and is now 9lbs worse off for the re-match. He'll need another career best here, but he's only 8 yrs old and has plenty left in him to improve further.

Aso was beaten by Two For Gold last time out, as you now know and is, of course, 9lbs better off today, which could make all the difference. A former Grade 3 chase winner and twice placed in the Gr1 Ryanair Chase at the Cheltenham Festival, he hadn't been the same horse for over a year, but turned the clock back with that run LTO. He has the ability to win this, he's weighted to win this (best in at the weights) so I suppose it's just a case of which Aso turns up.

Cool Mix completes the field and if you consider that he's carrying the same weight as Aso, despite being rated some 27lbs inferior then you see how much of a mountain this race is likely to be. I said at the start that five could win this race, he's the sixth runner! Don't get me wrong, he's not a bad horse and has been running consistently well as shown by his 21333 form over the last year, but the win was at Class 3 and he was only third in a Class 2 last time out. He did admittedly make the frame in a Listed contest at this trip two starts ago, but he's so badly off at the weights here (at least 13lbs out) that I can't consider him.

*

That's one (Cool Mix) down, just five to decipher now, let's look at chase form, courtesy of Instant Expert...

Aside from Cool Mix's unsuitability for the task ahead, I've not gained much here. Plenty of wins on similar kind of ground, whilst Defintly Red's seven Class 1 wins stands out a mile, even if they're from 23 runs.

Our pace stats for 5 to 7 runner fields on ground ranging from good to soft suggest that other than being held-up, there's every chance of winning from anywhere in the pack...

Sadly for us, this again only serves to rule out Cool Mix...

Two for Gold may well be the one to take it on. His team know that Aso is better off at the weights and they may decide to try and create a gap that Aso might not be able to bridge in the closing stages, Cloth Cap also likes to be up top and so we could see them all go a little quicker than they might normally.

Summary

Unusually, the date and graphics don't tell us as much as they often do, but the form and racecard details are very useful today in assessing how this might turn out. Any of five could win this, but some are (in my opinion) more likely than others.

In a six-runner contest, I'm not sure you want my usual "three against the field", but if you did, I'm putting Cloth Cap third. I think he'll feature prominently and has been known to be a bit keen and he's not as good as Two For Gold in my eyes. The danger though this pair is Aso, who'll probably bide his time and catch one if not both of them.

As for the winner, it's a toss up between Aso and Two For Gold. based on that last contest between and the revised weights it's Aso's race to lose, but that race was his first decent effort for some time and Two For Gold is still progressive. My heart says Aso here, but my head says we don't know which horse turns up here, so almost reluctantly it's Two For Gold ahead of Aso (just!) for me.

I've now (6pm) just looked at the market and we all agree, TFG just ahead of Aso with Cloth Cap third. Could have saved myself the time! 😀

Racing Insights, 5th March 2021

My 1-2-3 finished 2-1-3 at Southwell today, so I'm moderately pleased with the result. The Exacta paid £11.80 and the Trifecta was a lovely £55.30, so well done to those of you who have already said they'd got on.

Friday and the weekend now loom large, feature of the day for Friday is the Horses for Courses report, whilst our free races are...

  • 2.00 Lingfield
  • 4.40 Newbury
  • 5.15 Newcastle
  • 5.30 Dundalk
  • 7.45 Newcastle
  • 8.30 Dundalk

My Horses for Courses report only shows two runners for Friday and they're both in the same race, so I think we'll see if either of them might win again tomorrow...

It's an admittedly rare foray into Irish A/W racing for me, but the process should really be the same as usual, starting with their places on the racecard...

Both are former course and distance winners, Togoville is the elder statesman here, both have run in the last three weeks and both are in excellent form. Togoville has a central draw, whilst Major Power is in stall 8 of 8.

Togoville is an 11 yr old now and still shows no sign of slowing down, winning his last three starts, all here at Dundalk : twice over C&D and then dropped down to 6f last time out. he races almost exclusively here nowadays, his last 19 runs have been here and he's actually raced here 54 times to date, making the frame on 26 (48.1%) occasions and going on to win 14 (25.9%) of them.

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Major Power is 5yrs younger and has only raced here on 13 occasions, but has made the frame 9 times (69.2%), winning 4 (30.8%) of them. Like tTogoville, he seems encamped here nowadays with all of his last nine runs coming on this track. he landed a hat-trick of course and distance wins at the start of 2020 and was then a runner-up over 6f, beaten by half a length almost a year ago. He returned to action in late January after 315 days off track and has been a narrowly beaten runner-up in two runs here this year, firstly by 0.75L over C&D and then by half a length over a mile where he had the re-opposing and dangerous Wonder Elzaam a further half length back in third. WE is better off at the weights here today.

Some of their relevant stats are shown here on Instant Expert, but I've some others that may be of interest...

In addition to the above, Togoville's A/W record includes...

  • 14/53 in blinkers, 12/44 going left handed, 7/28 for his current yard
  • 7/27 in races worth 5-10k, 8/18 during February and March, 4/13 over C&D
  • 4/7 under today's jockey and 3/5 as an 11 yr old!

...whilst from Major Power's A/W figures...

  • 4/13 in races worth 5-10k, 4/10 without his tongue tie
  • 4/7 over C&D and 2/5 for today's jockey.

In similar past 8-runner handicap here at Dundalk, there's no real discernible draw bias in my opinion...

...even if stall 8 looks a dreadful place to be. I prefer to look at stall groups, so stalls 7&8 together have four wins, which is as good as any other pairing, whilst Togoville's stall 4 pairs well with both 3 and 5 for four wins. Stalls four to seven look good for places, though.

And once you've got your draw, you have to decide how best to run and Dundalk favours front runners or those as close to the front as they can be...

Our data says that that our two highlighted runners like to get on with it, as shown by their last three runs...

and our pace/draw heat map backs up the assertion that leaders fare best...

and when we overlay the runners from this contest...

...we see that our two are likely to lead the way. Both are in great form and might look to see the opposition off early.

Summary

Both Togoville and Major Power have excellent chances here, even if the latter is on a career-high mark and the former runs off a mark he hasn't seen since winning here over 6f in mid-December 2017. I'd expect them to be setting the pace and they could well run away with it in a 1-2 finish.

The danger is Wonder Elzaam, now much better off at the weight than when half a length behind Major Power two starts ago. he's a lightly raced 4yr old with plenty of miles left in his young legs and provided he doesn't let the front pair get too far, could well have a say in the final shake-up. I'd have hoped for a more in-form jockey on WE to be honest, so I'm going to say that Wonder Elzaam might have to settle for third in my 1-2-3.

So who wins? Wow, I don't know. There's not going to be much in it, I don't think, but if pushed, I'm siding with the old boy Togoville. He has actually won off a mark 4lbs higher than this and although up in weight again after completing the hat-trick, Major Power continues to have his mark increased after three (albeit narrow) defeats.

Thus, it's Togoville / Major Power / Wonder Elzaam for me. No prices available as I went to press the publish button (5.05pm), so it'll be interesting to see the market later.

Racing Insights, 4th March 2021

In the first of two races I looked at from today's Lingfield card, I felt Curtiz had a chance of a place if he could grab an early lead, if he was to win, he'd have to beat El Conquistador, who was available at 11/4. . I felt Curtiz was too short for an E/W bet at 7/2 , but I did find Cafe Milano interesting at 9/1 for those seeking a longer priced bet.

El Conquistador won at a very short 6/5 and Cafe Milano was third at 11/1, Curtiz was unplaced.

The second race featured two highlighted runners and I said that I preferred Propagation of the two and he could sneak into the places and that I thought River Wharfe might be the one to beat and you could possibly throw a blanket over four or five horses for the places.

Propagation did grab third place, but wasn't backable from an E/W perspective. River Wharfe, however, was beaten by just over a length yet could only manage sixth. How big is a blanket? 

Thursday's feature of the day is free access to Instant Expert for all races for all readers, whilst our races of the day are...

  • 12.30 Ludlow
  • 1.40 Southwell
  • 2.15 Southwell
  • 2.55 Clonmel

...and today is one of those "perfect storm" situations, where one of our races of the day is not only an interestingly tight decent standard of race, but also features a runner with a full line of green on Instant Expert, the feature of the day. So, it would almost be rude not to look at the 2.15 Southwell, an 8-runner, Class 2 A/W handicap for 4yo+ runners over 7f on the Fibresand here in Nottinghamshire. The winner will receive almost £12,000 for their troubles and is one of these eight...

As you can see the racecard is littered with red numbers under the runners' names, indicating notable stats and there are plenty of icons (red & green) by the names of the trainers and jockeys, so we've loads of data to take into consideration.

Gabrial The Devil has the best recent form and just shades the Geegeez Speed Ratings ahead of both Rock Sound (who won LTO) and Zylan who has also been going well of late, placing in four of his last six including two wins. My initial thoughts are that Muntadab's poor form looks out of place here and he could well need the run after a 20-week break, but let's assess each in turn, starting with...

Gulliver, who bears top weight here conceding a huge 11lbs and more to the field although he has been eased 2lbs from his last run, when beaten by 6.5 lengths at this class/trip at Lingfield six weeks ago. His sole run here at Southwell saw him win over 6f back in January 2020 off a pound higher than today and 3 of his 4 A/W wins have been at that shorter trip, but he stands every chance here.

Stats say the yard is shy on recent winners and that Jason Hart hasn't got the best out of the rides he's been given...

Tawny Port won here at Class 3 over 5f back in December 2019 and followed that with a Class 2 win over 5f at Chelmsford a fortnight later for a third win in four starts, which began with a Class 4, 5f win here too. It's fair to say he has struggled in nine defeats since, but is now back to that last winning mark. That said, he's only a pound lower than when last of five here over 5f last time out and recent form allied to a 2f step up in trip make me cold about his chances.

Stats say Callum Rodriguez is in good nick and also back up my claim of two course wins...

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Stone Soldier is four from six in A/W handicaps, including two from three here at Southwell. He won here twice within 10 days in December 2020, initially by 4.25 lengths over this trip at Class 4 and then over a mile, also at Class 4, where he just got home by half a length. He then reverted to this trip up in class and weight (+5lbs) last time out and could only finish 6th of 8, beaten by over 8 lengths. He's up in class again here and I think this is a tough ask for him.

Stats, however, show a yard in form with a good course record. The yard's horses seem to go well after a break and jockey Luke Morris has been amongst the winners for the yard over the last year...

Gabrial The Devil is bang in form having made the frame in 6 of his last 8 (winning twice), he steps up a class here after being beaten by just a neck over this trip at Lingfield last time out. He has only won one of ten A/W starts to date, but that win did come here at Southwell (8 weeks ago) and all six career wins have come at 6f. Up in class, trip and weight, he's going to need to find more here.

Stats are plentiful for this one and show a yard with a good course record, a jockey with a good course record and unsurprisingly good figures for the TJ Combo...

Aljari has won four of a dozen A/W starts, including a class, course and distance win here just over a year ago. He hasn't run particularly well in his last four outings split by a three month break, though and when last seen was beaten by five lengths here at 6f in a Class 3 contest. he has been eased a couple of pounds, but still steps up in trip and class. Although now lower than his last winning mark, others are preferred here.

Stats say that the yard is struggling for winners both recently and over the last year and haven't fared well here recently either, but Ben Curtis is riding well, bags winners at Southwell and has a decent record on the Botti string.

Rock Sound is a very interesting one here, having finished 12241 in five A/W runs (121 here) and was a winner at this track last time out. That was just a week ago as he defied any effects of a 16-week lay off to beat the re-opposing Zylan by a length and a quarter. From a more negative perspective, he's up two classes here, tackles 7f for the first time on A/W and is effectively 11lbs worse off today (6lb penalty and no 5lb jockey claim).

There's a whole bundle of stats about this one, the main ones say that trainer George Boughey's horses are flying right now, his LTO winners fare really well next time out and that he has good results from a small number of visits to Southwell. On the other hand, the normally excellent Hollie Doyle is scratching around for results and I half expected her to be riding Stone Soldier for Archie Watson.

Zylan is one of two Roger Fell-trained runners at the foot of the card and he's the more likely of the two to succeed based on recent form. He was only 1.25 lengths behind Rock Sound last time out and now meets him again on much better terms, He's a winner of 10 of his 41 A/W outings in a lengthy 78-race career and in the last 14 months has raced almost exclusively here at Southwell, racing here 18 times of his 20 starts, winning three times and making the frame on another five occasions. He has 8 wins and 6 places from 26 runs here, but it must be said that his best form here has been at Class 4 and over 6f. I'd expect him to go well, but others are more likely to be suitable, as he steps up two grades and a furlong.

Stats say Roger Fell's horses have a poor recent record from a win perspective, although they've started to make the frame over the last fortnight. His 1-year figures aren't great and a comparison of the Trainer/Jockey 1-year course stats and the yard's 1-year course stats say that the yard are 4 from 15 with talented 7lb claimer Tyler Heard in the saddle, but just 1 from 25 with other jockeys. That said, the yard does well with horses turned back out quickly.

Muntadab makes up the octet here and looks the worst of the bunch on form. Like stablemate Zylan above, he's been around the block a few times, racing on 64 previous occasions, but a respectable 11 from 55 record on turf hasn't translated well into A/W form where he is just 1 from 9. It's just over a year and 11 races since he last tackled an A/W surface and he now returns from a break of over 20 weeks since completing a run of defeats that saw him beaten by 16.5L, 17.5L, 16L and 10L in his last four, all over today's trip.

Stats as you'd expect confirm the Roger Fell form from above, but also show the yard's poor record with horses coming off a break. Our jockey isn't in sparkling form either both recently, yearly or at this track and hasn't done too well riding for the yard in the past.

So, I'd say we can rule Muntadab out here!

I did say earlier that one of these had a full line of green on Instant Expert, which is Thursday's 'feature of the day', so let's find out which horse that is...

Stone Soldier is the line of green horse based on all races, but it might well be worth looking at how these horses have fared purely in A/W handicaps...

and I think that gives us a clearer picture of which horses are likely to fare best here.

Our draw and pace stats for 8-runner handicaps of this nature suggest that those drawn highest are the ones to follow. Stall 1 has been poor, whilst 2 to 6 hasn't been a bad draw, but 7 and 8 are by far the best draw here. We also see that the further forward you race, the better the chance you have of winning.

So, I suppose it's very unsurprising that those drawn high and who like to lead have done very well here...

All we need to do now is overlay the recent running styles of out eight runners and put them in draw order and we should see a pattern of how the race might unfold...

The suggestion is that Stone Soldier and Rock Sound will try to take it on from the highest stalls, whilst Zylan will also attempt to lead, but could well struggle late on up in class and weight.

Summary

I think based on everything I've written, I want Gabrial The Devil, Rock Sound and Stone Soldier to be my three against the field, but they're not concrete solid picks. Gulliver and Zylan could also go well, but I can't pick five from eight!

Of my three tricast/trifecta hopefuls, I think Rock Sound and Stone Soldier are the strongest, so Gabrial sits in third for me here. He's in great form, but needs to improve on his A/W hcp record, but should still go well if not too keen too early.

So, we're down to two and I think Rock Sound edges it for me over Stone Soldier. Stall 8 is the best draw, he races slightly more prominently than Stone Soldier, he won nicely last time out and should come on for having had that run.

Sadly, the market agrees with my 1-2-3 at 11/4 and 7/2 twice, but hopefully we're all right!

Racing Insights, 3rd March 2021

According to some, Wednesday is "hump" day, whereas here at Geegeez, it's simply free Trainer Stats Report day. And as well as that, we have a selection of full free racecards on offer, such as...

  • 12.30 Wincanton
  • 4.35 Musselburgh
  • 4.45 Kempton
  • 7.50 Kempton

And I think we'll look at the Trainer Stats Report today and the 1 year course handicap form in particular, which gives us three runners across two races to consider...

We'll start with Curtiz in the 1.40 Lingfield...

Curtiz got off the mark at the eighth time of asking last time out when wining here over course and distance despite a 90-day layoff. He looked like he still had something in reserve, so a 3lb rise in weight shouldn't necessarily be his undoing.

We know his yard have a good 12-month record in handicaps, but most of his runners race over shorter trips than today. That said, his 1m-1m2f handicappers are 5 from 18 (26.3% SR, A/E 1.75) here since the start of 2017 and they include 32 winners from 8 (37.5% SR, A/E 3.61) over this course and distance.

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Having just 4 A/W handicap runs to his name that have seen him finish 9241, we were never going to get much from Instant Expert, but it is at least good to see that his sole win was on Standard going over class, course and distance. You see he's up 3lb (as I said) for that win and I can also tell you that today's jockey Charlie Bennett was in the saddle, Curtiz wasn't the favourite, he'd been off the track for more than a month (5 weeks this time) and again he wasn't wearing blinkers, as he has in the past.

Leaders tend not to fare well in these types of contests, whilst there's a fairly even split of winners from the three other racing styles, although the win % figures decrease the further back in the pack you race. Curtiz likes to race prominently, which is probably the best tactic, depending on his draw...

...he's actually in stall 4 and there's no real "right place" to be from there, but a prominent position does look his best chance of winning here. I'll make my mind up on him once I've looked at his opposition, but first...

...I need to move on to the 3.55 Lingfield...

...where we have two to consider. Top weight is Hughie Morrison's Rosemary And Thyme, who doesn't appear to have been done any favours by the assessor on her return from a six-month break. She was 5th of 9, beaten by 8.5 lengths over 6f on heavy ground when last seen, "earning" her a mark of 75 and although she's 5lbs lower on the A/W, 70 seems punitive to me about a filly who has shown little to date.

Further bad news comes from the facts that Hughie Morrison's 6f handicappers are just 1 from 13 here, whilst his 3yo fillies are 0 from 15 here since the start of 2017.

Propagation also makes a handicap debut for Charles Hills and the yard is 4 from 13 (30.8% SR, A/E 1.62) with Lingfield handicap debutants since the start of 2019. We know about the yard's record here over the last year, but since the start of 2019, their 'cappers are 3/8 over 6f here and 6/22 as 3 yr olds, and are 5 from 14 at Class 5, which could be could news for a horse making just a fourth start.

His last run was arguably better than Rosemary's, as he was beaten by 2.25 lengths here over 5f five weeks ago. he was doing his best work late on and shaped as though the extra yardage here might help, although he doesn't look the sharpest/quickest.

In a contest where our runners are both on handicap debut, having performed modest in their previous three outings, Instant Expert will tell us very little, so we'll skip straight to the pace/draw angle, as this is likely to be of paramount importance over 6f here, where it pays to lead and if you can't lead, get as far forward as you can. If you can do neither, then frankly you're in trouble...

Propagation is an out and out hold up horse and by passing 8 runners late on here over 6f isn't easy for experienced horses, never mind a 3 yr old handicap debutant, whilst Rosemary has led or raced prominently in two of her three starts and may well move further to the right of that graphic here. She's drawn handily in stall 5 where she can keep out of trouble without being pushed too wide, but Propagation will have to take the scenic route if he's to win from a stall 1/hold-up combo.

Summary

In our first race, Curtiz is up against 13 rivals, so it's going to be tough over ten furlongs, but he's not badly drawn in #4 and he's probably the pace angle in the race, the next ones most likely to race prominently are in stalls 8-14, so he might be afforded an easy lead. If he can hold on, he's a great chance of winning, but I'm not convinced he'll manage it. I definitely see him making the frame, but if he is to win, he's going to have to see off the likes of El Conquistador (11/4). 7/2 is too short for an E/W punt on Curtiz, but I did find Cafe Milano interesting at 9/1 for those seeking a longer priced bet.

We have two in race two and to be honest, I don't fancy either of them particularly. I've too many negatives about each to want to back either at 4/1 or shorter. I prefer Propagation of the two and he could sneak into the places, but I've got the 3/1 River Wharfe as my winner here and you could possibly throw a blanket over four or five horses for the places. It's not a race I'd want to play in.

Racing Insights, 2nd March 2021

The Shortlist report is freely available to all readers on Tuesdays and our free races of the day will be the following...

  • 1.00 Catterick
  • 4.00 Newcastle
  • 5.20 Gowran Park
  • 6.30 Newcastle

The first of the two Newcastle contests is the most valuable of the four free races and it looks an interesting/tight contest with any number of possible winners at first glance. So, without too much further ado, let's take a look at the 4.00 Newcastle, an 8-runner (hopefully staying that way for E/W punters), Class 2 A/W handicap for 4yo+ over 2m0.5f on the Tapeta. The top prize of £12,938 will end with one of these...

Who Dares Wins carries top weight off a mark of 104, was a class, course and distance winner here way back in June 2019 off just three pounds lower. Had struggled in five contests after a 2m5.5f win at Ascot last June but showed signs of a return to form when only beaten by a neck in another Class 2, 2m0.5f Tapeta handicap at Wolverhampton a fortnight ago, staying on well.

Island Brave has two wins and a place from his last six runs, he has 7 wins and 3 places from 19 on the A/W and won over class, course and distance here last time out. He has been afforded the luxury of an 80-day break and is only up 3lbs for that last run, but is now on a career-high mark and he did only win by half a length, though, in another tight contest (first six separated by 3.5L). Yard is 11 from 49 (22.5% SR, A/E 1.46) on the A/W here and jockey Martin Dwyer is 5 from 18 (27.8% SR, A/E 2.54) for the yard in handicaps over the last year.

Rare Groove makes a rare appearance having not been seen in over 18 months since being beaten by a neck in a 17-runner Class 2 handicap over this trip at York. He's had no favours from the assessor, as his mark remains unaltered from that last run. He has a win and two runner-up finished from three previous visits to this track and under normal circumstances he'd be in the mix off a mark of 96, but the lay-off probably means he needs the run.

Stargazer produced his best run in six last time out, when beaten by just over half a length at Wolverhampton a fortnight ago, finishing behind Who Dares Wins. He's up a pound for that run and is now some 6lbs higher than his last win, but he does have a good record here (22212138) despite going down by 6.5 and 7.5 lengths on his last two visits.

Carnwennan is a pound higher than when a half-length runner-up in this race last year, but hasn't acquitted himself too well in just four starts since. His lack of form and the scarcity of runs suggests something might not quite be right with him, but he is a former course and distance winner. Last time out, he was beaten by 21 lengths off this mark at Wolverhampton, so a dramatic improvement is needed here, but his trainer is 6/23 here over the last year, his jockey is 3/15 over the same period and they are 3 from 12 as a partnership.

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Notation is miles clear on the Geegeez ratings and comes here off the back of three wins and two runner-up finishes from six runs on the A/W and now steps up in class and trip for a first visit to Newcastle. Easily the most progressive in the pack here and if adapting to the new race conditions, might be difficult to peg back, especially if allowed to dominate like so many Mark Johnston horses do.

Cosmelli won here over C&D seven starts ago back in July and was a runner-up over C&D three starts ago, albeit both runs were at Class 3. He was then beaten by 16 lengths over this trip stepped up to Class 2 at Wolverhampton finishing last of 11, beaten by 50 lengths over 2m at Class 3 last time out. His C&D form is encouraging, but those two most recent runs are a little off-putting. He doesn't come across as the reliable type and basically didn't run last time out. Yard and jockey are both struggling for winners (0/16 and 0/11 respectively over the last fortnight), so this one is probably best left alone.

Jedhi returns to level ground after failing to make the frame on four efforts over hurdles and now tackles the A/W for the first time since June 2019. She's never gone further than 1m6f on the A/W and her sole win away from the turf came as far back as August 2018, when she landed a Class 5 handicap over a mile and a half. her career best effort came off this mark when winning by a nose back in July 2019 and after three months break, she's better off just watched.

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Instant Expert suggests...

...Who Dares Wins, Island Brave and possibly Notation are best suited here, but only Cosmelli and Jedhi look out of it. Rare Groove's mark of 96 looks a concern at 15lbs higher than his last comparable win and the same can be said against Jedhi.

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The draw stats here tell us that other than what looks an anomalous figure from stall 3, that it's best to be drawn out in 6, 7 or 8, although I'm admittedly a little sceptical about the draw over two miles from the finish...

And for those not lucky enough to get a high draw, it seems best to drop back from a low draw or to get on with it from the middle: grabbing the rail I assume?

We already know the draw and we already know how best to run the race from a given draw, so let's see how our runners fit into that heat map...

The win percentages for the four running styles are all pretty similar if truth be told and based on that closeness and my reluctance to add too much weight to a draw in a 2m+ contest, I'm not over-convinced the traffic light system is as relevant as usual (don't forget, a single stat in isolation isn't always one to be relied upon!). What is apparent is that Notation is going to try and dominate from the off, the next two prominent racers are both outside her, so she should get a soft unchallenged lead. The question is how far clear can she get before the pack start to close on her.

Summary

I've think that I've already made it clear that Cosmelli & Jedhi aren't for me and that Rare Groove is going to need a run after so long off the track. Stargazer has run poorly as though something was amiss in his last two starts and I have concerns about Carnwennan's lack of form and recent activity, so almost by default without even saying I like any of the runners, I'm down to my "three against the field".

And they are Island Brave, Notation and Who Dares Wins. Island Brave is in form, showed well on IE, has a good pace/draw make-up, yard goes well at this track and the TJ combo numbers are good. Notation is young and progressive and looks like grabbing a soft lead which might be difficult to peg back, she's way clear on our ratings and she's used to winning, whilst Who Dares Wins just seems to have a solid all-round profile in the areas I've discussed.

Had WDW been in better form prior to last time out, I'd probably have sided with him, but my tentative preference here is for Notation. If she gets out and stays out, that could well be enough. As for the minors, not much in it to be fair, but Who Dares Wins edges it over Island Brave, who might just have too weight to carry.

To be honest, any of these three could win, but I'd be surprised if none did.

Racing Insights, 1st March

We ended February with a nice result as my 1-2-3 finished 1st, NR and 2nd and although our 9/2 about Lucky's Dream was subject to a 30p Rule 4 deduction, the 3.15/1 payout was still two and a half times better than the 5/4 SP. Cardano's defection meant that anyone getting on after the early morning news he wouldn't run could also have landed a 5.7/1 forecast, so well done to those of you on that.

Monday heralds the start of a new week/month and we're closing in on the highlight of the NH season for many, but there are still several race days to negotiate first, starting here. To assist you, the Pace tab is freely available for all races every Monday and our 'races of the day' are as follows...

  • 1.00 Plumpton
  • 5.10 Ayr
  • 5.50 Wolverhampton
  • 7.20 Wolverhampton

The first of the two A/W contests above is the best quality (on paper at least) of the four free races and although only six are set to go to post, it looks a tight competitive affair, which we can hopefully unravel, as we tackle the 5.50 Wolverhampton, a 6-runner, Class 2 handicap for 4yo+ runners over 6f on the Tapeta. The winner will receive £11,828 and is somewhere amongst these...

A quick glance at the Geegeez Speed ratings also suggests a tight affair, as fourth ranked Venturous scores 97, meaning the first four are separated by just 2 points. Fizzy Feet heads those rankings, shades it on form and is one of three dropping down from Class 1 racing. Joint second rated Huraiz moves in the opposite direction, but probably has the second best recent form.

We've a couple of in-form yards and one in-form jockey, whilst we've one yard with a positive track icon and two jockeys proven here. All six runners have previously won over track or distance, one has won at both and three have won over course and distance...

Summerghand is one of the three former course and distance winners from winning a Class 2 contest here on Boxing Day 2019, but has struggled of late, finishing 8367 over the last six months. He was 7th of 9 last time out when beaten by almost 3 lengths in a Listed race at Lingfield just over three weeks ago on his comeback from 17 weeks off the track. He carries top-weight here and is rated a pound higher than his last win and I doubt he's top 3 material.

Stats-wise...

...he could do a lot worse than have Adam Kirby in the saddle, but the recent form of the yard is a worry for me.

Venturous is another C&D winner, albeit at Class 5 back in April 2019. He's been doing most of his A/W running over 5f since then, but certainly likes the tapeta, placing in 7 of 12 (inc 5 wins) races. He has won four of his last six outings, but was beaten by a length and a quarter off this mark last time out. That said, he was staying on well and might relish the step back up in trip.

Stats...

Aberama Gold was in great form in the winter winning three Class 2 6f handicaps on the bounce (also a Listed race runner-up by 0.75L in the middle of that run of form), but hasn't had the same success this year. However, his form is better than 544 might suggest and he was less than three quarters of a length off the pace last time out in a Listed contest and is a pound lower here than his last handicap run.

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Stats...

Major Jumbo returns to action after more than 23 weeks off the track since he finished 23rd of 24 in a Class 2 handicap at Ayr, prior to that he had finished 7th of 9 in back to back Listed races. He's a former course winner (1/1 here) and has three wins over this trip and has also won a Listed race, but after so long off the track, he's likely to need the run. Could struggle here.

Stat-wise, trainer Kevin Ryan was 9 from 36 (25% SR, A/E 1.65) in handicaps here at Wolverhampton during 2018 and 2019, but was 0 from 9 here last year and this is his first runner here for 2021.

Fizzy Feet is the only mare in the race and she was a winner at this trip/class two starts ago and was a runner-up beaten by just a neck in a 6f Listed contest last time out, where she was 0.5L and another neck ahead of the afore-discussed Aberama Gold. She's a former course and distance winner and has won 6 of 18 A/W handicaps to date including 5 from 12 over this trip. On recent form alone, she looks like the one to beat here.

Stats...

...and trainer David Loughnane's handicappers are 22 from 125 (17.6% SR, A/E 1.23) over 6/7f here at Wolverhampton since the start of 2018.

Huraiz makes up the field here carrying bottom weight and although he has ran creditably in his last two outings, he is 0 from 8 since landing a pair of Class 4 6f Novice contests in his first two outings back in August 2019. His two runs this year have seen him finish 3rd of 9, beaten by 3.5 lengths off a mark of 96 and then 2nd of 9, beaten by 2.75 lengths off 95. He goes off the same mark today, but steps up in class, making it difficult to see him winning, although he could well be involved for minor honours.

Stat-wise...

...not much of note, but the yard had a better second half of February than the first and might be coming into form.

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Only six run here, but with the exception of Huraiz with "just" ten previous outings, there's plenty of experience in this field. Between the six of them, they have raced 193 times, making the frame in almost half of them (96 places = 49.74%) and going on to win a respectable 41 times (21.24%). How and where they've won their races and their relevance to today's contest is clear to see on Instant Expert, of course...

Fizzy Feet hasn't the best record in handicaps here, but the rest of her profile catches the eye off a decent sample size, Venturous looks consistent if not spectacular, whilst from a percentage point of view, these are ideal conditions for Aberama Gold, but three runs aren't a lot to hang your hat on.

*

The draw stats here basically say you don't want a low draw, especially not stall 1, which isn't good news for Huraiz's bid to win a handicap for the first time...

...but that doesn't mean those drawn low can't win. If they do want to win, the advice is that they're going to need to get out sharp-ish and lead and even then the numbers are stacked against them with higher drawn horses only faring worse when held-up, as shown below...

So, if we look at either end of the draw, we'd say that Huraiz would need to lead and try to make all, whilst the likes of Fizzy Feet could sit in mid-division and still have a great chance.

When we look at race positioning, we convert the above four racing styles into numbers where 1 = held up, 2 = mid-div, 3= prominent and 4 = led and here, in draw order, is how our runners have raced over their last four outings...

...and we can overlay those styles onto that heat map above to give us a suggestion of how the race might unfold...

The suggestion here is that Fizzy Feet and Major Jumbo have the best pace/draw make-up and both are likely to be up front. Huraiz doesn't seem to be too well positioned, whilst the other three aren't too far off a good position.

I have a feeling Major Jumbo will go off quickly and soon feel the effect of his lay-off and I'd expect him to go backwards from about a furlong from home, ruling him out of contention, whilst there's nothing I've seen so far to suggest Huraiz is winning this either. He might be progressive, but he isn't winning and this is his toughest assignment yet. This leaves me with four in contention and one to rule out before the summary.

The last one to go before my summery and three against the field is going to be Summerghand. The yard is out of form, as is the horse and he's carrying too much weight here. His Geegeez rating is low and I've just too many negatives about him, so he's not for me.

Summary

Alphabetically, I'm left with Aberama Gold, Fizzy Feet and Venturous. Fizzy Feet beat Aberama Gold last time out and I don't see that form being overturned here and as I think the mare is better than Venturous on form, Instant Expert and Pace/Draw placings, it means I'm going with Fizzy Feet here.

Of the other pair, I don't have that much between them, but Aberama Gold's stats are just that bit better, so I think he edges it for the runner-up slot.

Fizzy Feet currently trades at 3/1, which I think is a decent enough price, whilst the market has Huraiz as the 9/4 fav. One of us has it quite wrong, fingers crossed it's not me!

Racing Insights, 27th February 2021

Last preview piece for the month and the 'feature of the day' is the fabulous Trainer/Jockey Combo Stats report, whilst our full free-to-all race cards will cover the following...

  • 3.00 Kempton
  • 3.10 Lingfield
  • 3.35 Kempton
  • 4.45 Kempton
  • 5.10 Fairyhouse

Re :  the Trainer/Jockey Combo Stats report, there wasn't much on offer that satisfied my fairly strict parameters, although the Skeltons are 10 from 21 in handicaps over the last fortnight and have three out at Kempton, so they might be worth a second look, but I'm going A/W racing for the 3.10 Lingfield, which is a 7-runner, Class 3, Polytrack handicap over 1m4f worth £7,246. I expect Cardano to be the favourite here, but is that justified? The only way to find out is by looking at the race, starting, as ever, with the card itself...

Cardano is top weight here, top rated on the Geegeez Ratings and arrives in great form seeking a hat-trick of course and distance successes inside 7 weeks. Interestingly, both wins were at Class 2 and he now takes a drop in class. He's up another 4lbs for that last win, but a jockey change sees a 3lb claimer in the saddle negating most of that rise, as his jockey from those last two runs now rides stablemate Luckys Dream. Both are trained by Ian Williams, whose handicappers are 8 from 44 (18.2% SR) here at Lingfield since the start of 2020.

Guroor is one of two 5yr old mares in this contest (Torochica is the other) and she tends to be there or thereabouts, though she doesn't win as often as you'd like. She was third here over course and distance last time out and was also third over this trip at Wolverhampton in her other 2021 run. Prior to that she had won four times and been a runner-up twice from her previous nine outings. She's 3lbs worse off than her last run, mind and she does step up in class, so she's not an obvious winner here, but our neural ratings have her as second best.

Lucky's Dream is the afore-mentioned Cardano's stablemate and he's second in the weights (carries 6lbs less) and is a close third on the Geegeez Ratings. Stamina won't be an issue for this one, as he won a 2m A/W bumper here almost six weeks ago and was less than three lengths off the pace in another 2m A/W bumper at Kempton last time despite getting a poor (IMO) ride. Richard Kingscote moves from Cardano to ride this one and he's already got one win and one place from three outings with Lucky's Dream.

Songkran is probably better on turf, where he is 4 from 11 as opposed to 1 from 5 on the A/W, but he did finish a runner-up here over course and distance last time out, when beaten by just half a length last week. On face value that run puts him right in the mix here, but he's 2lbs higher today and up in class, but trainer George Boughey's horses are in great nick right now and jockey Ryan Moore is 19 from 56 (33.9% SR) on this track since the start of 2019, including finishes of 126111311 this year so far.

Night Bear was disappointing when finishing 5th of 7 over this trip in a lower grade at Wolverhampton last time out, but he was only beaten by a length and a quarter in a tight race over this track, trip and class on New Year's Eve. Yet to even make the frame in four starts on the A/W , you'd have to imagine that even the booking of the talented Hollie Doyle won't be enough for this one to win.

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Torochica is the other 5yr old mare in the contest and aside from Cardano, the only other course and distance winner on show, acquired two starts and seven weeks ago off a mark just 4lbs lower than today. Normally that would make her of interest here, but she's up in class her and decent runs on the A/W have been few and far between, plus it's 31 rides and 45 days since her jockey last won a race. I'll pass on this one!

Last and probably least here, we have the bottom weight Margaret Dumont, a lightly raced 4 yr old filly. I'm not saying she's a poor horse, but her form line of 31343 flatters her as closer inspection shows her to have been 3rd of 5, 4th of 5 and 3rd of 4 in her three handicap starts to date, She's generally weak in the finish, has never raced on the A/W, has been off the track for six months and has left Mark Johnston's yard during her lay-off. A watching brief at best.

*

These seven runners include 2 x course and distance winners, 3 x course winners, 4 x distance winners and 5 x polytrack winners, Between them they have made the frame in 58 of 127 outings, a respectable 45.7%, including 30 (23.6%) wins. The one best suited to today's conditions should be readily apparent via Instant Expert...

Unsurprisingly, the past winners are all on higher marks than when they last won and both the Ian Williams runners are showing good numbers with Lucky's Dream looking best off for me.

He has the rail to run along here, but is stall 1 a good place to be?

Probably not, to be fair. The stats suggest that stalls 4 to 7 are more fruitful places to be for winners, but stall 1 does make the frame often enough. The draw alone won't break or break a horse's chances, of course, as race positioning and pace is equally if not more important. So where should a horse position itself?

Ideally, you want to race prominently, but not lead and if you can't race prominently, it's best to sit right back off the pace. Obviously the draw can also contribute to how the race gets run and if we look at how the draw and race pace interact...

...we find that almost incongruously, mid-drawn runners sitting in mid division have fared best, but that's because 8 of 9 mid-divisional runners happened to come from a middle draw, whilst other running styles have shared their winners around...

Aside from that possibly anomalous stat, it's as you'd expect from our data, stalls 4 and above racing prominently being the favoured option here. Which all begs the question, how do these seven normally run? Well, as you all know by now, we can show you...

The pace here is likely to come from the fav Cardano in stall 3 with Songkran also seeming to have a good spot on the chart. Lucky's Dream's best chance would likely be if he moved back a notch and sat in. Closer analysis of his running style in last four show that he raced prominently three starts ago, but has been held up in the other three of his last four runs. I suspect he'll be held up for a late run here and that should suit perfectly.

Summary

I suspect Cardano will attempt to win this off the front end and be pursued by Songkran with Lucky's Dream biding his time for a late run in the hands of the experienced Richard Kingscote. I'm of the thinking that these would be the three I'd want to be making my final selection from today and jockey bookings might well be very important.

Cardano is up in weight here and it's not easy for a jockey to judge the fractions correctly and make all here at Lingfield, so we look at the rider and we know Richard Kingscote has "defected" from Cardano to Lucky's Dream and although 3lb claimer Ray Dawson made all to win a Listed event here fifteen weeks ago, that was only over six furlongs and he's 0 from 34 since.

Based on the jockey info and the Instant Expert numbers, I want to side with Lucky's Dream in a possible Ian Williams 1-2, Songkran would be the one most likely to upset that prediction, I'd say.

Lucky's Dream currently trades at 9/2, which is probably about right, whereas Cardano doesn't look to offer much value at 2/1. Not based on the above anyway!

Racing Insights, 26th February 2021

Our four against the field finished 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 5th and although I didn't get them the right way around again, I hope some of you are finding me narrowing the field down useful. The horse expected to be a short favourite ended up winning at 4/1 after I said I couldn't back him at 2/1. Had he been 4's last night, my piece might have looked different, but no aftertiming or backtracking on Geegeez! Hopefully some of you did some exacta/trifecta perms as they paid 19/1 and 64/1 respectively.

Those that didn't might need some help finding a bet for Friday, so to assist you, the Horses For Courses report is available to everyone, as are the full cards for the following races...

  • 2.35 Exeter
  • 3.00 Gowran Park
  • 4.00 Dundalk
  • 4.23 Warwick
  • 6.00 Dundalk
  • 6.30 Wolverhampton

And I think I'll have a look at the chances of three horses that interest me from the Horses For Courses report...

Starting with Rakematiz in the 1.10 Lingfield...

Rakematiz was third here at Lingfield over 1m2f and beaten by just a quarter of a length three starts ago off a mark of 62. He ten stepped up to today's trip to win over course and distance off the same mark, but struggled last time out.

He was raised 5lbs for that last run and dropped back down in trip to 1m2f and could only manage to finish 8th of 10, beaten by six lengths.

Trainer Brett Johnson's horses seem to be running better than usual so far this year, making the frame in 12 of 21 (57.1%) runs and going on to win five times (23.8% SR, A/E 1.37), whilst since the start of 2018, his A/W runners racing over trips of 1m4f to 2m have placed in 19 of 43 (44.2%), winning 9 of them (20.9% SR, A/E 1.46).

We know that the horse has a 64.3% place strike rate and a 28.6% win strike rate here at Lingfield, but here's how he has performed generally in A/W handicaps to date...

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A solid line of green for the place and a solid amber line for the win suggests conditions are ideal for him here to hopefully go on and make the frame. If he can do that, then it opens the possibility for the win, of course.

We also know that he's drawn in stall 2 and in recent 13-runner contests here , that's the second most successful stall after box 11...

...the heat map above tells us that the ideal pace/draw scenario is to race prominently from a middle draw, but we know we're in stall 2, so Rakematiz probably needs to lead or be held up to maximise his chances and we can see below how he has run in his last four outings...

...and he is indeed, a hold up horse, which is another positive.

We've obviously only isolated him from the field, but without looking at what he's up against, I wouldn't want to commit myself as to his chances, but I see no real negatives so far.

*

And now to the 7.30 Dundalk, which interestingly has two possibles fitting my fairly tight criteria...

Sunset Nova has raced here at Dundalk 10 times in his last 11 starts and has finished 211313 in his last six here, spread over the past three months. He won over this distance here two starts ago, but after a jockey change and a rise in weight, he ended up 8lbs worse off when upped in trip to 7f, resulting in him going down by just over 4 lengths in third place. AJ Slattery, who is 3 from 7 on the horse here at Dundalk, is back in the saddle today, taking 3lbs off as the horse drops back in trip.

Eglish on the other hand, isn't in quite as good a run of form and her best recent run came when second over course and distance three starts ago when runner-up to stablemate War Hero who beat her by half a length off today's mark. She is a former course and distance winner, but most of her wins have been at 7f.

Sunset Nova has the edge on form so far. We already know about their win and place percentages here at Dundalk, but more generally here's how they've performed in all A/W handicaps...

Both stack up really well here and although Eglish's apparent dominance over the distance is mainly down to her 7f form, both look like they could make the frame. I wouldn't say either had the edge on this section, but we should note that both are a few pounds higher than their last winning marks.

These two are drawn in the lowest third of the draw in stalls 1 & 4 and in the last 55 similar contests, stall 1 has 7 wins to stall 4's 4 wins. Par here would be 4.23 (55/13), so stall 4 has slightly underperformed, but stall 1 has the second highest number of wins at 169% of par expectation (IV = 1.69), making Sunset Nova the notional winner of the battle on draw...

So, they're both drawn low meaning that the ideal scenario is for them to lead or at least race prominently...

...but that's not the case and both tend to be waited with. Yet, that's not disastrous if they hang back a little further than the average of the last four races suggest they might. Sunset Nova last achieved a pace score of 1 (held up) three starts ago and his pace profile reads 2212, so I'd expect him to race slightly further forward than his average, but Eglish's last four reads 1132 with her being held up in each of her last two runs, so she may well drop further back today. Not a lot between the two here, but Eglish looks marginally more favourable.

As with the Lingfield runner, I've no real negatives against either of these two for a place so far, but I do need to consider the opposition.

Summary

After going away and looking at the bigger picture of both races, here's where I am...

The Lingfield race looks like G for Gabriel (5/1) or Peace Prevails (10/1) for me, but in behind them I have Dream Magic (18/1), Mister Blue (4/1) and our highlighted runner Rakematiz, currently priced at 9/1. Some bookies are offering 4 places and Rakematiz has a really good chance of making the first four home, but Peace Prevails looks a better bet to me, whilst Dream Magic offers better value.

Whilst, later at Dundalk, I've got the 6/1 Sunset Nova to finish ahead of Eglish, who trades at 8/1 but I don't see either of them winning this. If they're both going to make the frame, however, they're going to have to hope that the 11/4 fav Togoville or 13/2 runner Fridtjof Nansen fail to spark. Sunset Nova is best placed to make the frame of the two we've considered, but 6/1 isn't great for an E/W bet, but neither is the 8/1 about Eglish, so I'd probably leave both alone here. If I did get involved, the 12/1 offered about Fit For Function looked interesting.

 

Racing Insights, 25th February 2021

For today's Ludlow race, I suggested the possibility of E/W bets on Nordic Combined, Star of Rory and Eddiemaurice at 14/1, 14/1 and 10/1 in opposition to the 6/5 favourite Robinshill.

Those three E/W possibles finished 5th at 10/3 jt fav, 2nd at 10/3 jt fav and the 8/1 winner, so a winner and a placer from three possibles. The overnight favourite drifted right out to an SP of 5/1 and could only manage fourth.

On Thursdays, we offer the Instant Expert guide for all races to all readers, including our 'races of the day', which are scheduled to be...

  • 2.27 Chepstow
  • 3.27 Chepstow
  • 5.25 Thurles
  • 5.30 Southwell

I had a look for some runners with interesting Instant Expert graphics, but most of them looked like they'd be really short prices, so I'm reverting back to the first of our four free races above...the 2.27 Chepstow, a 10-runner, Class 4, handicap chase over 2m3.5f on Soft (heavy in places) ground. The winner will receive £4,289 and will be one of the following...

Silver In Disguise tops the Geegeez Ratings and I'd expect him to be a fairly warm favourite here, but this is by no means a free hit, so let's see if we can find something in his rivals' recent history that might suggest an upset, starting with...

Supreme Escape bears top weight here and was a fairly useful staying hurdler, winning over 3m0.5f on Christmas Eve. He was disappointing on his chase debut here at Chepstow when 7th of 9, but in his defence it was a real drop in trip to 2m0.5f and he'd been off the track for 257 days. He then won here over course and distance 15 days later on heavy ground and based on that run, he could go well here again, despite struggling back at 3m1.5f last time out.

Keep Rolling makes his chase debut today, but did win over hurdles a this class and trip on heavy ground three starts ago. Represents the Hobbs/Johnson trainer/jockey partnership which always command respect, especially as the yard are 14 from 65 (21.5% SR, A/E 1.20) over fences here since 2015, including 6 from 29 (20.7%) for today's jockey.

Pride of Lecale was pulled up before the last hurdle over this course and distance on heavy ground almost three weeks ago seeming to suddenly run out of gas. Probably no surprise after 433 days off the track, though. He doesn't have too many miles on the clock for a ten year due to three lengthy layoffs which suggests he might not be the strongest, so probably best watched on chase debut, although he does have some decent form on heavy ground and jockey Paddy Brennan is in great form right now with 7 wins from 25 (28%) over the last fortnight including 5 from 16 (31.25%) for trainer Fergal O'Brien.

Silver In Disguise is our likely favourite and this former PTP winner struggled in three races over hurdles before tacking the bigger obstacles for the first time at Catterick last time out, where he was an easy 21 lengths heavy ground winner, which will explain why he'll be popular. Conversely, he's up in class, up in trip by 3.5f and up a massive 15lbs, so plenty of unknowns there and the yard is only 3 from 51 over the last two months and has just 4 wins from 88 here at Chepstow since the start of 2018, including a 0 from 17 record over fences.

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Minimalistic has finished 12th of 14 twice (bt by 51L & 78L) over hurdles and was then 3rd of 5 on chase debut, beaten by 25 lengths just over seven weeks ago. He's down in trip (by 5f), down a class and off a mark of 112 for his handicap debut hasn't been given much slack by the assessor. He's not one I'd want to back.

Crypto has has just five starts to date, winning one of two bumpers and finishing fourth in each of three hurdles contests, including a 20 length defeat on handicap debut over this class/trip/going at Bangor six weeks ago. Form doesn't suggest he's likely to win on handicap debut, but trainer Venetia Williams is famed for her horses winning in the mud (2 from 2 at Ludlow today) and she has a long-term good record over fences here at Chepstow including two winners and a runner-up from six already this year.

Ostuni made the frame (albeit 23 lengths behind the winner) at this course, distance, class and going last time out and now returning from a short 12 week break, he's been lowered 3lbs in the weights, which should help him be a little more competitive. He has won a couple of hurdle races at longer distances than today including one on soft ground, so stamina should be OK. He'd be a surprise winner here, but could build on that last run to make the frame again.

Dunbar is still a maiden after 13 attempts (2 x NHF, 10 x hrd and 1 chase) and his best spell came in two months during mid-2019 when he finished 3322, but has floundered since. He didn't see 2m7f out very well on chase/yard debut last time out, eventually finishing 6th of 9 and beaten by 15 lengths despite having led until after 3 out but now takes a 3.5f drop in trip which should help his race management if nothing else. David Rees' chasers are 14 from 74 (18.9% SR) on soft/heavy ground since the start of 2018, but I can't this one adding to that tally.

Cushuish has won just one of her 16 previous outings, but has made the frame in five of her last seven. She makes a chase debut here off a mark only 1lb lower than her hurdles rating, where she's just 1 from 12. Further doubt is cast by the fact that most of her racing has been on quicker ground over longer trips at a lower grade than today. So, there's too many things not right for her here for me to want to leave her alone (I suspect she'll have plenty of red on Instant Expert).

Dawn Sunrise carries bottom weight here for a chase debut after three nondescript efforts over hurdles. He wqas beaten by 88 lengths over this course and distance on debut two years ago, was pulled up twelve days later and then a further 18 days after that, he finished last of seven some 46 lengths off the pace at Wincanton. He's carrying no weight here off a mark of 92, but he hasn't raced for 703 days, hasn't jumped a fence in anger and in David Noonan, has a jockey desperately short of winners after just 1 from 35 over the last month. Not finishing last would equate to success here.

*

Not much chase form to go off today and a field with just 11 wins and 15 further places from 85 starts, I'd imagine that most of these lack a positive profile under today's conditions. To save you ploughing through past results/stats etc, our simple traffic light system on Instant Expert tells you their place from and then their win form under today's conditions in all NH contests...

Going and distance are key here and so I've ordered them in number of places of soft/heavy ground and from the above, it's pretty clear that the first six are the ones best suited and of those Supreme Escape catches the eye on distance. My general "rule of 2" is that I like to see at least two non-red sectors from going/class/course and distance, so that would count against Cushuish here.

And in terms of winners...

...the first three named (who featured heavily on the place graphic) all look to be better suited than the favourite. A word of caution about Supreme Escape, as he's now some 7lbs higher than his last win, but again that pales against Silver In Disguise's 15lb hike in weight.

*

In 12 previous similar contests, only horses racing in mid-division have failed to register a victory with hold up horses winning 41.7% of them, but that's only marginally better than par off 40.4% of the runners. Prominent racers won a third of the dozen races from 31.6% of the runners, so again marginally better than par, but it was front-runners who performed best with 17.5% of the runners winning a quarter of the races.

I wouldn't be put off by having backed a horse that then ran in mid-division, as 12 runners from 114 is no real sample size and a quarter of them made the frame, which isn't too far behind Prominent or Held-Up runners. Unfortunately, after all that, our pace tab tells me there's no confirmed front-runner here...

...although the first four in that list have all led in at least one of their last four outings as denoted by the number 4 in the following graphic...

...suggested that one of them will have to step forward here. Keep Rolling won when he made all when winning at this class, trip and going over hurdles three starts ago, so it wouldn't be a massive surprise if he tried to do the same here.

Summary

Silver In Disguise won well last time out and I can see why that would make him popular, but I suspect the rise in class, trip and (lots of) weight might be his undoing here today and he could be vulnerable to the likes of Crypto ( if he decides to race prominently), Keep Rolling (likewise) and Supreme Escape, who has a good all round profile for this contest.

Of those four, I think Crypto might be the weakest, so he'd b e the last one I'd discard before taking my three against the field for today.

From the three I've got left, I think I like the prospects of Keep Rolling at 13/2 under Richard Johnson best. RJ was on board for that made all win and I think he's the best jockey in this contest at judging the speed of the race. Whilst for the minor places/trifecta purposes, I fancy Supreme Escape (also at 13/2) to edge out Silver In Disguise, who doesn't strike me as great value at 2/1 or shorter.

Racing Insights, 24th February 2021

Yesterday's piece proved to be a veritable curate's egg : good/bad in places. I suggested that Totterdown would attempt and fail to make all and then not even make the frame, which is exactly what happened as he ended up fifth of seven finishers. My initial four against the field took three of the first four places, which is promising, but I didn't see the 17/2 Rockadenn winning, but he battled well to get up in the final strides to deny Pic D'Orhy.

Wednesday's 'feature of the day' is the excellent Trainer Statistics Report, whilst our full free racecards are for the following contests...

  • 1.45 Doncaster
  • 3.30 Doncaster
  • 4.45 Ludlow
  • 7.15 Kempton

And with heavy ground still prevalent in some places, let's head to South Shropshire for the 4.45 Ludlow, a 9-runner, Class 3, heavy ground, handicap hurdle over two miles. The winner will receive £5,913 for their troubles and will be one of these...

Based on the form shown above, I'd expect Robinshill to be very popular here (odds on possibly), but there could/should be scope for a decent priced E/W pick, which is what I'm looking for today, so let's look at each runner.

Nordic Combined carries top weight here, he's also top of the Geegeez ratings and has won over a similar trip to this on heavy ground less than a year ago. That however, was in a lower grade than today and is still his only win in 19 attempts over hurdles. He has made the frame seven times in total, but hasn't looked up to the task in recent runs and doesn't find much under pressure.

Ey Up Rocky was a winner last time out when scoring over 2m4.5f on good to soft ground at Newbury, Unfortunately, that was almost two years ago now and he's up in class and weight (+8lbs) and could be forgiven if needing a run. He won his only bumper start and has two runner-up finishes over this kind of trip since, but flopped on his only soft ground run. The lay-off, a rise in class/weight and the first time run on heavy should all be too much here.

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Robinshill is more than useful in this sphere, a career record of 10 wins from 36 includes 6 wins from 25 over hurdles and he comes here seeking a hurdling hat-trick and a 4-timer overall. He won here over course and distance in a chase last time out and runs here 7lbs lower over hurdles. He's 4 from 8 here at Ludlow, has won on heavy, he's 9 from 21 at 2m/2m0.5f, 5 from 12 at Class 3 and 6 from 14 going right handed. He's the one to beat here.

Gerolamo Cardano is one from five over hurdles so far, winning a heavy ground Class 5 contest at Hereford over 2m1f on debut last January, which he followed up with a decent run in third in the Grade 2 Finesse at Cheltenham three weeks later. Sadly he hasn't kicked on from there, since finishing last of 6 (beaten by 36L) at Haydock at Class 2, then he was pulled up in the Grade 3 Fred Winter at last year's Cheltenham Festival. Ten months rest was then taken, but he struggled on his reappearance in the Lanzarote (Listed) at Kempton last month, finishing 15th of 20, some 46 lengths off the pace. Down to a mark of 124, he's probably still too high to get involved here, despite the drop in class.

Deniliquin also drops down in class here after finishing last of 7 (bt by 47L) at Hereford in December on his first outing for 2 years and 5 days. prior to that he was beaten by 24 lengths on his UK debut and despite him being 1 from 1 in France, he's not one I'd have much confidence in.

Eddiemaurice is an interesting one at 10 yrs old, as he now drops down to the same mark as his last win, which was on heavy ground at Newbury 13 months ago. He hasn't been overworked since then, running just four times and he has been rested for the past eight weeks or so. He's 5 from 32 over hurdles, has made the frame here at Ludlow, doesn't mind the mud and 2m is his preferred trip. Although most of his best form is at Class 4, he has won better races than this one in the past.

Star of Rory hasn't quite hit the heights of last season, which ended with him winning here at Ludlow on soft ground. He returned to action at Cheltenham in October after eight months off and ran creditably in a 10 length defeat, but fell at Warwick and was only third of six last time out. He's second on the Geegeez ratings, though and of his 3 from 14 hurdling record, he's 1 from 1 here, 3 from 7 on soft/heavy, 2 from 3 going right handed and 3 from 9 with his tongue tie.

Lisheen Castle is another who hasn't been seen often or for a while. It's actually 750 days since he last ran and this will be only his third start over hurdles. He did win on his hurdling debut just over two years ago and followed that up with a 5 length defeat a month later when up in class. He's up in class again here and has changed hands and although Emma Lavelle is great at getting her horses to perform in the mud, you have to worry about the boy's fitness after such a lay off.

Olympic Honour carries bottom weight here and is third on our ratings, but has been largely disappointing since wining at Fakenham back in December 2019, losing five times since. The middle run of that five race block was decent until he blundered the last hurdle when in contention, causing him to finish as runner-up, beaten by nearly 9 lengths. The run up to the mistake showed he does have ability but the other four recent runs have seen him beaten by 24, 18, 19 and 26 lengths and he now steps back up in class off a mark that sees him 2lbs worse off than LTO.

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There's not a great deal of quality in the above and it really shouldn't take much for the assumed fav to land it, but we do need to find the placers. Instant Expert might help us do that...

The only real blemish against Robinshill is his record on heavy ground. Nordic Combined catches the eye for 5 places over this trip and he's also made the frame in both heavy ground runs on the flat. Eddiemaurice has a red-free line of figures from a place perspective and Star of Rory is also interesting on heavy ground. Ey Up Rocky is up 8 lbs from his last win, which isn't helpful, whilst Eddiemaurice has now dropped to his last winning mark.

I've looked at the pace stats for similar contests and they suggest leading or racing prominently is the way forward here, which should also play into the hands of our favourite, a confirmed front runner...

...but it doesn't give us much assistance in sorting out the places. I suppose Deniliquin's best chance of making the frame might be to chase Robinshill for as long as he can and then hope to hold on as the pack eventually close in, much will therefore depend on how quickly the Twiston-Davies team want to go off. Of the remainder, Nordic Combined raced prominently in three races on the bounce prior to a hold up run last time out, which just happened to be his worst run for some time, so he might well be asked to step forward.

Summary

I think Robinshill wins this fairly comfortably, I'd expect him and his very able jockey to be able to pretty much choose the margin of victory. Deniliquin may well set off in pursuit, but I don't see him making the frame.

For an E/W or place only bet, I think I'm most interested in the likes of Nordic Combined if he steps forward like he has before last time out, Star of Rory based on his heavy ground form and Eddiemaurice now down in weight and his general showing on the place element of Instant Expert. I think all three have a good chance of making the frame and I'd probably have them in that order although they are much of a muchness.

Now, I take my first look at the market and Robinshill is predictably a short favourite at 6/5 with Hills (already odds on at Bet365!), whilst my three potential placers are 14/1, 14/1 and 10/1 respectively.

Racing Insights, 23rd February 2021

A nice 10/3 (SP 3/1) winner to kick off our week and we also had the first four home. Sadly my 1234 finished 1423, but you can't win them all.

Next up is Tuesday, of course and the 'feature of the day' is the Shortlist report which highlights horses running in conditions that they have previously performed well in, whilst our 'races of the day' are as follows...

  • 2.15 Wetherby
  • 2.30 Taunton
  • 5.10 Newcastle

The middle of those three races above is another of those open-looking heavy ground affairs that I like to take on, so today's focus is on the 2.30 Taunton, an 8-runner, Class 2, handicap hurdle over two miles and half a furlong on the afore-mentioned heavy ground. The winner will take home £9495 and will be one of the following...

Pic D'Orhy heads the weights here, but is only 4lbs higher than when winning the Grade 3 handicap Betfair Hurdle over this trip at Newbury just over a year ago. He hasn't tackled a hurdle since and hasn't looked the same horse over fences, but does drop in class.

Has plenty of good hurdles form on very soft/heavy ground in France and has won at trips ranging from 1m7f to 2m2f. If hurdling like he has in the past, will be a major player here and he hails from a yard with a 29% strike rate (40 from 138) over hurdles here at Taunton since 2016, including 17 from 55 (30.9%) for jockey Harry Cobden.

King Roland won both his bumper starts and has finished 212 over hurdles so far, the last of which was in a Grade 2 contest at Cheltenham 13 months ago where he was just 2.25 lengths behind the winner and the same distance clear of the third placed horse Protektorat who has finished 1122 over fences since.

KR hasn't raced over hurdles since that Cheltenham defeat, though, firstly taking 9 months rest and then making a chasing bow where he finished third beaten by almost seven lengths after attacking the race a little too keenly. With a run like that last one at HQ, he's right in the mix here.

Masters Legacy makes just a fourth career start, having finished 211 so far, all over hurdles here at Taunton. He was beaten by 2.25 lengths on debut in mid-November 2019 over 2m1f on good ground at Class 5, before opening his account over the same track and trip (C4, Gd-soft) four weeks later. That was followed by a similar break before winning another Class 4 contest, this time over 2m3f on soft ground.

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He's up two classes here and tackles heavy ground for the first time, but he does look a progressive type and his yard are 11 from 44 (25% SR, A/E 1.41) over hurdles here since the start of 2018. My major concern with this one is the fact he is coming off a break of 413 days.

Rockadenn has only ran twice in the UK before now, finishing 2nd of 6 (beaten by 6.5L) in a Class 2 hurdle over 1m7.5f on heavy ground at Haydock, just over a year ago and then ran out at the 5th over fences at Musselburgh just over a fortnight ago upon his return.

That doesn't inspire confidence, but he did sign off his French career with four straight wins (3 x chs, 1 x hrd) over trips of 2m0.5f to 2m4f on very soft or heavy ground. In fact he's only ever run in the mud!

Totterdown is one of two ten year olds in this contest and has won four of his sixteen hurdles races including three from six on heavy ground and four from fourteen at 2m/2m0.5f, but that's where the good news ends, as he's been below par this season.

He was last of three in October on his comeback from a near 10-month absence, he fell 4 out at Ffos Las and then was beaten by a combined 72 lengths in two outings over hurdles. He tends to be a bit too keen and likes to lead but generally weakens late on.

Getaway Fred has won just one of his eight starts to date and that was a Class 4 novice hurdle back in November 2019. Hasn't ran well this season so far in three Class 3 chases, being beaten by 52L, 6L and 52L and although he handled heavy ground well enough on his only attempt, I'd not be rushing to back him here, stepping up in class and hurdling for the first time in 11 months and hailing from an out of form yard that has had just 3 winners from 81 over the last two months and whose hurdlers are 1 from 52 over the last 11 weeks.

River Bray is an unreliable, temperamental sort, but doesn't lack ability if you can get him to run. He's often reluctant to race/get involved but has behaved a little better of late with two decent runs at Wincanton over 1m7.5f at Class 3.

He was only beaten by three quarters of a length off this mark last time out on similarly heavy ground and did manage to make the frame on his only previous visit to Taunton way back in December 2017. He was a runner-up on soft ground that day, going down by just 0.75L in a 14-runner contest. The gamble here is what mood he's in. If he's up for it, you could be in the money, if he's not willing, you might as well burn your cash.

Pinson du Rheu is the second ten year old in the contest, he carries bottom weight and is another with very little UK racing under his belt, having raced here just the once. He was a useful jumper in France winning 5 of 33, albeit with a better record (4/24) over fences than he did over hurdles. All his French wins came on very soft or heavy ground at trips of 2m1.5f to 2m6f, so stamina should be fine.

Connections must think something of him to bring him over as a 9 yr old to make a UK debut in a Cheltenham Grade 3 last November, but sadly he didn't perform and was pulled up. My fears here are that he hasn't ran well for some time, the trip might be too sharp for him and it's more than 100 days since he was last seen. He'd be better over fences, I think.

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Race suitability is assessed by Instant Expert, which record all UK runs, so I suspect that there'll be some gaps in our coverage here with a couple of these having very little/no UK form. The overall achievements in the UK by these eight runners stand at a respectable 45.7% place strike rate (32 from 70), including 20% winners (14 from 70). As ever, i expect the place element of Instant Expert to be more informative than the win element, so I'll put both up for you...

From the above, there's no getting away from King Roland's record at the trip, Master's Legacy at Taunton and Totterdown on heavy ground. There's nothing in the above to really put me off any of the runners, so time to assess race tactics and pace etc.

And the stats tell me that you really want to race prominently, but let someone else lead. They also say if you can't race prominently, you should be as far forward as you can, being held-up isn't a good tactic in these conditions, it's as damaging as trying to win from the front, as shown below...

That doesn't look good for either of Totterdown or Pinson du Rheu, but wouldn't necessarily end the chances of any of the other six here, although my previous two sections might have already done so!

Summary

I can easily remove Totterdown & Pinson du Rheu from my equations based on my write-ups and their pace profiles. Getaway Fred is in as bad a run of form as his yard right now and Rockadenn hasn't seen a hurdle for ages and when he does see one, he's better over fences!

So, I'm down to half the field, namely King Roland, Master's Legacy, Pic D'Orhy and River Bray. You can make cases for and against all four here, but I've got to take one of them away and I think the combination of top weight on a career-high mark tackling hurdles for the first time in over a year makes Pic D'Orhy the most vulnerable of the four.

This means my "three against the field" are King Roland, Master's Legacy and River Bray. To be honest, I don't see much between them and I suspect the market will reflect this and whilst I'm fairly confident that these are the best three here, I'm not super-confident of putting them in the right order. At this point, I can almost hear you shouting at me to pull my finger out, so if pushed I'd line them up as Master's Legacy / River Bray / King Roland.

The market has the three at 10/3, 13/2 and 5/2 fav with my discarded Pic D'Orhy as 5/1 3rd fav. I thought it might be tight!

Racing Insights, 22nd February 2021

No real surprises from Saturday, as both "Potters" finished outside of the places. Potters Legend was last home as just six of nine completed the Grand National trial, where the horses that interested me, Achille, was an 11/1 runner-up beaten by just half a length, so a bit of E/W profit there.

I thought Potters Hedger was more capable and more likely to place in a race where he'd have to be better than Everglow and also hope that Bushypark didn't run away with it. In the end, Bushypark did run away with it at an SP of 8/1 and Everglow was indeed third and therefore the one to beat to make the frame. Sadly Potters Hedger was two places and 6.5 lengths further back, but certainly ran his race.

Monday heralds a new week and whilst it's generally a poor day of racing, there are still winners to be found! To help us, the Pace tab is freely available for all races, including the free races of the day, which are...

  • 1.35 Carlisle
  • 1.55 Fairyhouse
  • 2.20 Southwell
  • 2.40 Carlisle
  • 3.40 Carlisle

Heavy ground beckons at Carlisle and of the three free races we offer, the first looks the most open, so today's focus falls on the 1.35 Carlisle, an 8-runner, Class 4, handicap chase over 2m4f on this heavy ground. The winner will receive almost £4,289 and will come from the following...

Final Reminder is the only mare in the contest and makes only her second start over fences, but did win three times from ten attempts over hurdles. She probably needed the run when beaten by 36 lengths on her chasing bow at Kelso 11 weeks ago, having not been seen for 18 months and with it being over 32 months since she last won, other appeal more on form.

She's rated the lowest on our figures and her best work has come on much quicker ground over longer trips, but she has won at a higher grade and drops down in class here, whilst her yard has had 5 placers from 10 runners in the past fortnight. I don't see her making the frame, though : mid-division should be her best here.

Ryalex is the only course and distance winner here, but that was some 27 months ago and not only has he been beaten ten times since, that remains his only success in 21 attempts. He's down in class and down a furlong in trip from his last run, but he was beaten by 27 lengths here that time and has failed to even make the frame in five efforts on heavy ground.

Hard to find many positives about this one, if I'm honest, the yard is 1 from 36 over the last month and 0 from 34 here at Carlisle over the last 16 months.

Trongate is the proverbial "close, but no cigar" horse who always seems to be there or thereabouts, but doesn't win often enough, as typified by making the frame 6 times from 14 over fences (15 from 39 overall), but only winning two chases (and 3 in total). He's on a long losing run, stretching back twenty races to Autumn 2018 when he won twice in three outings.

In his defence, he has finished in the first four home nine times in his last dozen outings and was third in his last effort over fences and he has the best heavy ground form on offer here with two wins and two places from nine runs, finishing 14312 in his last five. Definite place potential here.

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Scottish Accent comes here on a run of form reading 223, which in a race devoid of recent winners, makes him the form horse and therefore the one to beat. Seven of his nine starts (all at Class 4) have been on soft ground and he made the frame in one of his two heavy ground outings. He has yet to win a race, but his recent form suggests he's due one.

Trainer Rebecca Menzies is 7 from 17 (41.2% SR, A/E 3.26) with Class 3 to 5 handicap chasers over trips of 2m4f and shorter on heavy ground since the start of 2016, including 5 from 6 when sent off shorter than 6/1.

Shaughnessy finished 221 in three bumpers and although then going on to finish 343 over hurdles and 34 over fences, hasn't seemed the same horse since the turn of the year to start 2020. He was pulled up at Chepstow just over a year ago and then had 314 days off track ahead of a 26 length defeat at Newcastle.

He fell heavily at Wetherby on Boxing Day and reverted to hurdling last time out, but was almost 50 lengths off the pace. He's up in class over a sharper trip and although down 5lbs, I see him nearer the back than the front.

Central Flame is, at 13 yrs of age, the veteran of this race, but comes here off the back of his best run for five years, having been a runner-up at Newcastle just over ten weeks ago. He was beaten by less than four lengths over 2m4.5f on soft ground at this grade, for just his fourth place from 15 efforts over fences.

He's one from two here at Carlisle, has finished 2333 on heavy ground and his three career wins have all been at 2m3.5f to 2m4.5f. He's down a pound in the weights too, so he's not out of contention here in what looks a poor contest.

Mill Race King makes just his sixth start today ( also won one of two PTP races) and has yet to complete a chase contest after falling at Leicester in early December ahead of being pulled up at Wetherby on Boxing Day in the race where Shaughnessy fell.

He did run second here in a 2m3.5f hurdle at Class 3 on heavy ground, but that was almost teo years ago and only four ran and I think he's best watched here. He could place, but could also finish last or not finish at all.

Westend Theatre makes up our octet and has finished 31423 in his last five starts and was only beaten by eight lengths last time out, despite having spent over nine months off the track. Sadly, the form from that race isn't string with just one placer from nine attempts.

He's down in trip here, but up 2lbs (although his jockey now claims 3lbs) and up in class. His best form comes in the mud and he's a confirmed stayer, so this might be a little sharp for him at 2m4f, especially after more than 15 weeks since his last run. I don't see him near winning, but if things fell his way, could nick a place.

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These eight have ran 144 times between them so far, making the frame on 50 (34.4%) occasions, but only winning 12 (8.3%) of them, suggesting that the place element of Instant Expert...

...might tell us more than the win only side of things...

What the above graphics do tell us is that in handicap chases, we've only two previous heavy ground winners, two Class 4 winners, one course winner and two distance winners. Trongate has an excellent place record, whilst both Scottish Accent & Central Flame both look well placed to make the frame on past performance.

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The pace tab is Monday's free feature, so it would be rude not to take a look...

...and the first thing we see are two big green boxes suggesting we want runners to lead or at least be prominent, as they win more than 23.5% of the time. Closer inspection of the breakdown of 15 races tells us that 38.8% of runners race prominently and win 60% of the races. Another 38.8% of runners are held up, but they've only won 6.7% of the races, as have the 5.1% of mid-division runners, leaving us with the 17.3% of horses who led taking the remaining 26.7% of races.

The figures for mid-division runners is inconclusive, so I wouldn't write them off, but I wouldn't want to be backing horses that will be held up, especially if there's any pace in the race.

And is there any pace here? Well, yes!

I'd expect Ryalex and Westend Theatre to get on with it, as they have tended to do in the past, but with career records of 1 from 21 and 1 from 22 respectively, history suggests they'll get caught. This makes them vulnerable to the likes of Scottish Accent, Shaughnessy, Trongate and Central Flame and those four bar Shaughnessy do tend to stay on and finish quite strongly.

Summary

From the racecard analysis and my write-ups, I was keenest on the likes of Scottish Accent, Trongate, Central Flame and possibly Westend Theatre. The same four caught the eye on Instant Expert with Westend looking the weaker of the four and there's a suggestion that he'll do his usual too much early on and fade away, so I'm leaving him out at this point.

So my three against the field are Scottish Accent, Trongate & Central Flame. I'd love Trongate to win this and at 6/1, he's decent value (I thought he'd be shorter) but I think that Scottish Accent might just have too much for him late on. Sadly the market agrees and have installed him as the 10/3 favourite, but there might even be a bit of juice in that price, I'd not be surprised to see him shorter than 3/1.

Central Flame would be my tentative addition for tricast/trifecta purposes here.

Before I go, a quick note about prices. I say there might be juice at 10/3 for a horse that might be 11/4 and it doesn't seem much at first glance, but it's almost as lucrative as getting 10/1 about an 8/1 shot.

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