Cheltenham's abandonment means three races from Lingfield will be shown on ITV and that includes their 3.30pm, a class 3 mile handicap that looks a nice betting heat despite just the seven runners.
As usual I’ll be looking at this race using the form tools and racecards on offer with Geegeez Gold, many of which can be accessed for free on various days with a free geegeez account.
I’ve looked at a few different mile handicaps here over the winter and the data shows that front runners can have an advantage.
The smaller the field the less ground hold up horses need to make up in most cases so it’s no surprise that in fields of this sort of size the front runner advantage isn’t quite as strong. The majority of winners in smaller fields here over this distance are held up but they have the worst win percentage record of just 12.02%. This steadily climbs the closer to the pace you get, 18.8% of front runners are victorious here. We also see similar increases in the place percentage and IV metrics as you get closer to the pace.
One thing that is worth remembering is that although hold up performers can be at a disadvantage over this course and distance, Lingfield is well suited to speedier hold up types that have a turn of foot. We saw this a couple of weeks ago when Intuitive won a nice handicap over track and trip. Grinders, that are typically suited to straight courses or long straights and take plenty of winding up tend to do much less well here and are the kinds of hold up horse to oppose.
Looking at the pace map for this race:
Unsurprisingly in a seven runner contest, there is little pace on offer here. Golden Force looks the lone pace angle but he’s unlikely to make it much of a test. He’s led on three of his last seven runs and has been close to the pace in all but one of those. He seems a horse that doesn’t need to lead but is happy to do so when it provides him with a tactical advantage.
Atheeb may well be close up. He had been ridden fairly patiently for Sit Michael Stoute previously but on debut for George Boughey last time out he led in the first furlong before tracking a pretty strong pace. The new connections probably see him as a horse that likes to race handily and it would be no surprise to see him ridden fairly positively again.
The majority of the remaining runners tend to be patiently ridden so there should be little pressure on the leaders here.
The data here suggests a slightly peculiar trend:
In seven runner fields here low drawn runners have a PRB (Percentage of Rivals Beaten) of just 0.44 whilst middle and high draws have a PRB of 0.53 and 0.54 respectively. For some reason stalls 1 and 2 both perform much poorer than any other stall in this field size. Now this could be a quirk of the data as there is no obvious reason why those stalls should perform much worse but stall 1 has the worst PRB in field sizes of 8 runners whilst in 9 runner contests stalls 1 and 2 are amongst the three worst stalls for PRB. So there is potentially something in this and Lethal Lunch is stall 1 and Tadleel in stall 2 could be at a slight disadvantage here.
Looking at each of the seven runners here in early market order:
Catch My Breath
A winner of his last two starts here, Catch My Breath carries a 5lb penalty whilst jumping up two classes. The impressive Laura Pearson rides but she also rode last time so there is no additional benefit from her claim today compared to last time.
It seems strange that in the very early betting this horse is just 13/8 so he could well be a day of race drifter. He’s a 5yo, off a career high mark going up to class 3 company for the first time. The race he won last time didn’t look particularly strong but he is unbeaten in two course and distance runs and on his only other start here he ran fairly well in a warm handicap over 10f so this course is clearly bringing the best out in him and he can’t be ruled out.
The likely pace angle in the race has been in good form since racing resumed in June, winning 3 of his 8 starts. He’s 10lbs higher than his defeat to Lalania in June which is a race that worked out extremely well with the winner going up 16lbs in the ratings since then, that 10lb rise isn’t guaranteed to find him out based on that run.
His good form since June could be down to the change of headgear to a visor, which he continues to race in here. He’s also seemed particularly well suited to Wolverhampton, producing form figures of 131 there (the 3rd was a close third, beaten less than a length). On polytrack however his form figures have been 499376. He failed to beat a runner home when sent off 11/4 on his only previous run at Lingfield and that would be a concern. The form of the Charlie Fellowes yard would also be a slight concern. He’s not had a winner since Golden Force won a month ago, that run spans 18 runners, 8 of which were shorter than 5/1 so better runs would clearly have been expected for many of those.
Masked Identity was behind Golden Force on his last two runs at Wolverhampton, beaten 1.75 lengths and 3 lengths respectively. He was unsuited by a slow gallop when beaten 3 lengths and although only 2lbs better off now, he does have claims of turning that form around given question marks over Golden Force’s suitability to this track.
Masked Identity has his own question marks here though. He’s raced 12 times on the all weather, producing 2 wins and 6 top 3 finishes but he’s yet to race at Lingfield. He’s run well in defeat at Chelmsford on several occasions though. His latest when a staying on 3rd over a furlong shorter having met trouble in running and he also finished 3rd last time he raced at a mile there, behind two subsequent winners when rated 3lbs higher. He’s raced at 4 all weather courses and finished at least 2nd at all of them so Lingfield shouldn’t be a worry. He’s won off a 1lb lower mark in the past and although he might be vulnerable for win purposes, he’s well capable of running well.
Some serious questions to answer for this runner. On his stable debut, last time out, he was dropped into claiming company and despite being sent off a 5/4 chance he was beaten 10 lengths. He hasn’t shown anything since finishing 6th in the Wokingham in June and this is his first run over a mile so there are so many reasons he could run poorly. He has won at Lingfield, and is one of those speedy types that could do well if held up over this trip, but his current well being has to be taken on trust and stall 1 is potentially a disadvantage too. One to keep an eye on in the market though.
Surprising to see this runner available at 8/1 in the very early betting. He won over course and distance on his penultimate outing in a race that worked out well. The 2nd and 3rd have both won off higher marks and there were several other winners in behind. He’s 5lbs higher but he won that race cosily and beat other well handicapped runners so is certainly still of interest off 85.
That was his only run as a 3yo. Presumably he had problems and he was later sold, reappearing as a runner for George Boughey earlier this month. He was 6th, beaten almost 5 lengths, so certainly needs to improve on that bare form but there are reasons to think he will. Firstly that looked a really strong race and he probably chased too fast a pace (the pace setters finished 9th and 11th).
There is also the fact he was having his first start in 223 days for a new trainer. George Boughey has inherited 25 runners from other yards in the past 5 years and not one of those 25 runners has won first time for him. A huge 18 of those were single figure prices and 10 were shorter than 5/1 so his horses clearly don’t run well first time when joining from other yards.
Now what is really interesting is 22 of those 25 runners have had more than one run for Boughey and 9 were successful on one of their next two outings so they clearly come on for that first run.
Rossa Ryan has only ridden for the yard on three occasions in the past 5 years and he’s produced form figures of 133.
There is obviously some risk involved given he does need to come on for that last run but the evidence suggests he will, both based on the above data and also the fact that he was a 6/1 shot early for his last race and went off at 12/1.
Mohareb outran his odds two weeks over course and distance when 3rd in a class 2 handicap. That run merits plenty of respect but the winner won by 3.5 lengths and it’s worth noting the 2nd favourite and joint 4th favourites were both below par that day so finishing 3rd might not be the achievement it first seemed.
His record here at Lingfield over 7f or a mile reads 133 and he’d be more than capable of finishing around 3rd or 4th here but that doesn’t make him of betting interest in this contest.
Along with Lethal Lunch he’ll be looking to improve the record of low drawn runners in this. He has been successful over 7f in his career but 7f around Lingfield looks too sharp a test so his defeat last time out here over shorter is forgiveable, for all he was definitely below par having failed to beat a runner home. He was beaten half that distance on his previous run against a pace bias at Chelmsford off a 144 day break so that Lingfield run was definitely a step backwards.
He was competitive over this distance in class 2 handicaps at York in the summer off this sort of mark so he probably doesn’t deserve to be as big as 16/1 early but he clearly needs to bounce back from that lesser effort last time out. That was his only run at Lingfield so perhaps it’s a case of the course not suiting. He’s best watched here but it would be no surprise if he won over a mile in the near future.
Masked Identity is capable of running well in this and is probably more interesting than Golden Force due to the latter possibly being better suited by tapeta than polytrack. Golden Force will be one of the better positioned runners though.
Catch My Breath and Atheeb both bring 100% c&d records into this race. Catch My Breath seems really well suited to this course so is respected and he should run well but he’s of much less interest at short odds given he’s facing much better horses here than he previously has done.
Atheeb on the other hand has beaten progressive, well handicapped horses over course and distance and seems to have far more scope to be better than his current mark. The angle with the progression of Boughey new recruits from first run to subsequent runs is a very interesting one and is more than enough to help me favour Atheeb for this contest.
The selection will hopefully track Golden Force early and get first run on the rest of the field going into the straight. Given there is a chance he doesn't improve from last time you'd probably want to go win only even if there were three places on offer so with two places on offer for each way bets it's even easier to decide to back him win only.