Seven of the last nine renewals of the Betfair Chase have been run on ground that was at least soft and three of the last five years it has been heavy ground but a very dry spell this year means that we are likely to be racing on good ground on Saturday. This gives us a good opportunity to have a look at potential pace biases on better ground at Haydock.
Staying trips are the main focus at this meeting with three chases over 3m+ and also the Grade 3 Stayers’ Handicap Hurdle so these distances are where I will concentrate my efforts.
3m+ Chase Pace Bias At Haydock On Good Or Good To Soft Ground
Unfortunately we have a pretty small sample size here courtesy of the fact that Haydock rarely gets extended dry spells but the data we do have suggests that this is a relatively fair course.
Races tend to be more even from a pace perspective over longer distances and that seems to be the case here with front running, racing in mid division and being held up all resulting in pretty similar place percentages. Front runners actually perform poorest of all in terms of placing with a place strike rate of 25% but being near the pace isn’t a complete disadvantage as prominent racers have comfortably the best win and place strike rates. The win percentage when racing prominently is an impressive 17.05% and the place percentage is 38.64%, well clear of the next best 27.66% for mid division.
Despite the small sample there does seem enough of a difference in the data to suggest that racing just off the pace is advantageous over longer trips around the Haydock chase course.
Given how close the data is for the three other run styles it doesn’t seem worth doing anything with this pace data other than simply marking up those that are likely to race prominently.
The individual pace setup in each race will of course have an influence on this so we definitely shouldn’t blindly assume that prominent racers will be advantaged in every single race but more often than not they are likely to be seen to best effect here.
3m+ Hurdle Pace Bias At Haydock On Good Or Good To Soft Ground
To be able to get more data into the sample I have included races run over 2m6f as well, a move that is unlikely to dilute the quality of the sample given the similarity in distance.
Again, still not a massive sample but we are seeing a fairly strong advantage towards those nearer the pace here.
Front runners have a place percentage of 29.03% and prominent racers have a place strike rate of 30.77%. There is little between the two but both compare very favourably with mid division and held up with those place percentages reading 22.08% and 20.20% respectively.
So both front runners and prominent racers have a similar record of reaching the frame, as do those racing in mid division and the rear, but there is a pretty big difference between the two pairs of running styles.
So once again, take into account the pace setup in each staying hurdle race at Haydock on decent ground but in most cases mark up those likely to race in front rank.
Stayers’ Handicap Chase Analysis
My preferred race to get involved in on this card would be the chase run at 12.40 over a distance of just over 3.5m. Even on good ground stamina will be at a premium.
Firstly, here is the pace map for this race:
It seems almost certain that Furius De Ciergues will go forward and if similar tactics to recent runs are used on the rest of the field he’s going to get a pretty easy time of it at the head of affairs. He’s an extremely consistent sort having finished in the first 4 on each of his last 13 starts over hurdles and fences and his latest 3rd has been pretty well advertised since with winner Strictlyadancer going in again comfortably next time out. He’s unbeaten in two runs beyond 3m2f and should be able to fill the places once again as a minimum, even if he is 2lbs out of the handicap.
There are four contenders likely to track the early pace and this quartet should be in the best place according to the previous pace data here.
Speak Of The Devil is a consistent horse on good ground and he’s very much in form having gone close last time out. He could be suited by this step up in trip but he’s generally been running in weaker looking races than this. He does look a fair price though all things considered.
Captain Drake ran poorly last time out but that was off the back of a break and after a wind op so he did have excuses. He has good ground hurdle form but he seems best suited by softer conditions and he’s not the easiest to fancy here. Jersey Bean is another who didn’t run well last time out. On the best of his form he has more than a fair chance but he’s not the easiest to predict.
Defuture Is Bright looks a bit short in the betting based on this season’s form. He’s already had two runs and did improve from first run to second run but he was still 13 lengths behind Furius De Ciergues last time out and he needs to rediscover last season’s form.
Amateur is all about stamina and he’s been a better horse on his more recent starts after a wind op. If he’s fully fit for this he’s a major contender. Silva Eclipse has won here and finished 2nd a further four times but the majority of his best form is on heavy or soft so conditions could be livelier than ideal for him.
This perhaps isn’t the strongest race with several of these having questions to answer so I think I’d prefer to play Furius De Ciergues each way given he is proven over the distance and in the ground and he comes into this extremely likely to run his race which is more than can be said about most of these.
Solid Contender At Lingfield
One runner I have been monitoring for some time is Uther Pendragon who runs in the 11.35am at Lingfield. He’s certainly not the classiest, nor is he the easiest to win with (just 3 wins from 67 starts compared) but he does have a much better record of filling the frame (23 top 3 finishes from 67 starts) and he’s now looking very well handicapped.
He’s put in numerous decent efforts in relatively good races.
On the 22nd December he was a narrowly beaten 3rd over course and distance off an 8lb higher mark. The winner won 2 of his next 5 starts and the 4th won next time out too.
On 12th January he was 3rd again over this course and distance, beaten 1.5 lengths, in a race where the 2nd, 4th and 6th all won shortly after. Uther Pendragon was rated 9lbs higher in that race than he is now.
On 5th February he was a neck 2nd, again over course and distance, and the winner won next time out whilst the 3rd and 4th would both finish runner up shortly after. That run also came off a 9lb higher mark than his current rating.
Then on 18th April at Newbury over this 10f off the same mark again as previous runs, he was ‘only’ 7th, beaten 5 lengths, but the 1st, 2nd, 6th, 8th, 10th, 11th, 12th and 13th all won within a couple of outings after. That was an extremely strong race and arguably the best example of Hot Form all season.
Uther Pendragon seemed to lose his form after that but enjoyed the return to Lingfield last time out, trying to make all but ending up in 3rd. That’s not his typical run style so he should benefit from being slightly more patiently ridden from a good draw in stall 2. If he tracks the pace and is in the same form as last time he should be able to at least place again so it will be interesting to see how the bookies price him up.