MATTERHORN (Joe Fanning) beats WISSAHICKON (left) in The Betway Easter Classic All-Weather Middle Distance Championships Stakes Lingfield 19 Apr 2019 - Pic Steven Cargill /

Lingfield Handicap Preview: Pace Likely To Dominate Mile Races Yet Again

Last week I examined two one mile handicaps at Lingfield with some success (7/2 winner and 9/1 placed). Having highlighted a strong pace bias at the course in that article, it was no surprise that the winners of both races were ridden prominently. And we might just see something similar again in the 11.35 at Lingfield on Saturday, another one mile handicap.


I looked at two contrasting field sizes last week to compare the differences in pace bias. This week we have a ten runner handicap so let’s see what the data tell us:

Once again we are seeing a strong pace bias towards those that lead in this sort of field size. Backing front runners blind has been hugely profitable and leaders have an IV of 1.32.

As you go back in the field the Win%, Place% and IV figures all gradually decrease. The closer you are to the pace here, the more advantage you have.


We can use the great tools on Geegeez to get insights here, too. This time it’s the turn of the Draw Analyser:

Looking at any metric that relates to winners here would suggest middle draws are advantaged and low draws are disadvantaged. The Place% figures slightly back that up although they are much closer together than the Win% figures; and PRB suggests that there is very little in the draw over this distance between all stall positions.

Looking at every single stall in the data range used see a variance of just 0.03 between the single ‘best’ stall and the single ‘worst’ stall so realistically there is no obvious draw bias at all.

A look at the pace and draw combination might shed some light on some micro situations where there could be a draw bias.

Pace and Draw Combination

I mention this a lot but I’m a really big fan of the pace and draw heat map that’s available on both the Draw Analyser page and also the Draw tab on the racecards. Just because there isn’t an overall draw bias it doesn’t mean that certain run styles aren’t advantaged or disadvantaged based on their stall position.

By displaying the PRB data in the heat map we are making use of as much data as possible from every qualifying race.

The standout takeaway from this is that the biggest advantage is with high drawn front runners. Two furlongs are run over this course and distance before the runners head into the bend so there is no obvious reason why higher drawn front runners do better than lower drawn front runners but it appears they do enjoy an advantage.

There aren’t many massively disadvantaged positions based on the draw but it does seem those that are drawn high and further back in the field have a slight disadvantage from their positions on average.

The Runners

We’ve established the pace advantage so the pace map for this race will tell us if any of the runners are likely to get the run of the race or if the pace advantage could be nullified by a contested speed.

This race certainly should not be run at a crawl with Lalania, Ruby Gates and At Ease all comfortable going forward.

Starting with At Ease, who is the early favourite, Charles Hills has good course form with six wins from seventeen runners in the past five years. His handicap debutants are also profitable here in that period, producing a 23.81% win record and an IV of 2.1.

Looking at the horse itself, form is limited after just two starts. She was entitled to need the run first time out and ran respectably in the circumstances and she followed that up with a novice win over a mile at Chelmsford. Gaining a handicap mark based on a front running victory around Chelmsford can be a dangerous game given runners of that nature will generally be seen to best effect there but there should be a similar advantage here at least.

The bare form of her win was decent enough. She beat 84 rated Mars Landing (probably not flattered by that rating but is hard to win with) by 0.75 lengths in receipt of 5lbs. The pair were 7 lengths clear of the third. She could easily have been handed a rating around 80 which would have been quite interesting given she has clear room for improvement and it seems the handicapper has let her in lightly off a mark of 74 here. She’s a high drawn front runner and appears to have every chance.

I’m Available is challenging her at the head of the market at the time of writing and she comes here off the back of a staying on third at Wolverhampton on her latest start. She has previously won at a mile but all her best form over the past year has been at 7f. She’s likely to be held up and the form of her Kempton win two starts ago was certainly nothing special (the second, fourth and fifth were all well enough beaten next time out) and she’s much easier to oppose here than At Ease.

Others who look opposable also include Kwela who despite a decent return from wind surgery last time is now back on a career high mark and has been beaten in three runs off lower marks here. One Small Step was behind Kwela last time with little optimism for reversing that form here.

The importance of strong Lingfield course form was discussed in last week’s preview as it can be a slightly quirky track that brings out the very best in some runners. Course form is certainly no worry for the likes of Stay Classy and Lalania, both of whom have been tried at listed level this season.

Stay Classy’s form is fairly hit and miss but she’s two from three at this venue, her only defeat coming in a class 2 handicap. Her wins came off marks of 82 and 83, both with the 7lb claim of Angus Villiers who was very good value for that claim, and in her defeat she was beaten 3.25 off 89 without a claimer so without a claimer again here she is probably still a little high in the weights. There is also a fair chance she is slightly better at 7f too.

Lalania has been a revelation this season, winning four races in 2020 rising a total of 19lbs in the handicap. The big question is whether or not the handicapper has got her yet. She was runner up off a 9lb lower mark on her last handicap run at this distance but the 1st, 4th and 5th have all won since so that was clearly a smart effort. She also won on her next start to frank that form further. That win came at 7f and the 4th and 5th won next time out with the 3rd and 6th placing since so she has a strong catalogue of form and she’s only 4lbs higher than that effort.

She’s a speedy sort for a mile which is great around here and she’ll be on the pace from her low draw. She has proven this course suits well with a 4 length victory on her last run at this venue. That win came at 6f and she had previously run well here over just 5f, finishing a fast finishing 2nd.

The downside of Lalania is she is likely to be taken on for the lead (she doesn’t have to lead though and should be happy enough to track the leader) and she no longer has the services of Hollie Doyle who has struck up a nice partnership with the horse, riding her on her last four victories.

Ruby Gates is the other pace angle who has not yet been mentioned. She made all last time out in a five runner, class 5 handicap. She’s up 3lbs for that and has never won above that recent winning mark, nor has she won in seven runs in class 4 company.

The only runners yet to be mentioned are Lady Eleanor, Sunset Kiss and Delicate Kiss.

The former is lightly raced and is yet to get within 4.75 lengths of the winner in four handicap starts. Those runs all came at 7f and she’s shaped a few times as though worth a go at a mile but she doesn’t look well enough handicapped to win this and is high enough drawn for a hold up performer.

Sunset Kiss is also lightly raced and went from winning a Wolverhampton maiden by 2 lengths to being beaten 41 lengths on handicap debut. She had previously shown a decent level of form on turf so a first encounter with heavy ground looks to blame for that effort. She shouldn’t be badly handicapped and is overpriced but has plenty of questions to answer obviously.

Delicate Kiss was behind Kwela and One Small Step at Kempton last time out but is only 1lb higher than when 2nd at Chelmsford on her previous start. The winner hasn’t done much for that form in two runs since and the handicapper probably has her now.

Final Verdict

So the two I’m most interested in here are the well fancied At Ease and the progressive Lalania. They should both be well placed, assuming they don’t compromise each other’s chances by getting into a competition for the early lead.

At Ease has the front runner/high draw angle, the trainer/course record is profitable and she looks to have been let into handicaps lightly but she’s yet to run here.

Lalania should be well placed and has very few questions to answer. She was admittedly beaten 15 lengths last time but that was in Listed company in a big field. It’s possible she is a couple of pounds higher in the ratings now than ideal but she still has enough in her favour to run well at what could be pretty generous odds (a very early 10/1).

I’ll be backing Lalania each way and covering the pair in a reverse forecast. The options for third are plentiful but Sunset Kiss certainly shouldn't be written off.

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4 replies
  1. 10 Things You Didn't Know about Geegeez Racecards
  2. Antony Harrison
    Antony Harrison says:

    Hi I understand your in depth analysis, but like any model and statistics it is what it is! Take scientists predicting Covid19. Now this is racing nobody told the horse! Please just send me your tips for the races you’ve looked at, if they lose I won’t hold it against you, names in the frame for 4 races would be great. Really appreciate what your doing but at the end of the day we are betting what we can afford to lose, so just give me your best shot. Regards Antony.

    • Matt Bisogno
      Matt Bisogno says:

      Sorry Anthony, that’s not this site. There are plenty out there who will do that. We try to help people to confidently find their own pucks.
      Good luck,

  3. russsmithgg
    russsmithgg says:

    Well assessed again, Sam. Meticulous approach, convincing arguments and a great read. I appreciate your elaborations even if one or two others don’t!

    Icing on the cake was the result with Lalania 2nd at 10/1 and Sunset Kiss 3rd at 16/1. Well played.


    • samdarby
      samdarby says:

      Thanks Russ!

      I’m still struggling to figure out why Jack Mitchell took a pull on Lalania and held her up in mid division. I’m absolutely convinced in hindsight that she’d have won if ridden prominently. That’s the most patiently she has been ridden in her last 11 starts, since she couldn’t go the pace over 5f!

      Very frustrating but I’ll have to accept the place money 🙂


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