My shortlist of three for Monday's race included the winner and the runner-up separated by a nose with the gallant Younevercall getting collared on the line having made a mess of the penultimate hurdle. On now to Tuesday, where the feature of the day is the Shortlist report, whilst our free cards are for...
- 12.45 Huntingdon
- 2.00 Fairyhouse
- 3.07 Hereford
- 3.30 Fairyhouse
- 3.58 Lingfield
To be honest, there's nothing there that I want to tackle (an Irish bumper and races with 14, 5, 3 or 2 runners, where the 5-runner one might have been OK but for the possibility of a very short fav), so it's off to the Shortlist we go...
...and whilst it's not as busy or clear cut as it often is, the fact that two of the qualifiers go in the same race leads me to see which of the two (if any) is the most likely to land the 3.23 Lingfield : a 7-runner, Class 3, Handicap Hurdle for 4yo+ over 2m7f on Soft ground worth £5,913 to the winner and whose racecard looks like this...
There's little to separate our two possibles (Closing Ceremony & Getaround) on the Geegeez ratings and both find themselves at the wrong end of that scale with figures of 86.1 and 86.9 on my standardised ratings (as I said yesterday, that's basing the top ranked at 100).
Getaround is clearly in the better form of the two and drops two classes for this handicap debut (HC1). Not much to say about the trainers other than there's a suggestion that Emma Lavelle (Closing Ceremony) might not be on top form right now (14) but she does have a good record at this venue (C5) over the years, whilst both jockeys are 3lb claimers up against some top riders and Bryan Carver has struggled over the last fortnight (14).
The shortlist snippet for these two runners looked like this...
and we can add some numerical flesh to those barebones by clicking the Instant Expert tab...
...and just as Closing Ceremony appealed marginally more on the Shortlist, the same is true on Instant Expert, where there's not really enough information surrounding Getaround, but we'll look at that shortly, too! The last thing I want to look at before assessing the horses and telling what I think of them, is the pace tab, of course (I'm nothing if not methodical!), which looks like this...
...which suggests that Getaround's penchant for leading might enable him to dictate affairs from the front, whilst at the bottom of he graphic, the hold up tactics of Robin Gold might also be interesting.
And so, to the horses themselves, starting with Closing Ceremony : who at 11 is no spring chicken and is at least 3 yrs older than the rest of the field. He's lightly raced (19 so far) for his age and was a winner four starts ago, albeit almost 22 months ago. Five hurdle wins to date (from seventeen attempts) on ground rated good to soft all the way through to heavy. No run in the last 8 months and only 3 in the last 22 months since his last win.
Nothing to write home about in those three runs either, 12th of 18 was followed by him pulling up twice and I think this might be his last chance.
His figures are pretty good with 5 wins from 17 over hurdles, including 4 from 16 going left handed, 4 from 7 at Class 3, 4 from 7 off a mark of 123-128 (goes off 127 today, but has won off 138!), 3 from 10 on soft ground and 3 from 5 in 5-7 runner contests.
He's actually 0 from 2 at this 2m7f trip, but is 5 from 9 at 3m/3m0.5f, so the trip wouldn't be the reason for a defeat, neither would the going. He has a good record on soft (as above) and since the start of 2017, his trainer, Emma Lavelle's hurdlers sent off at Evens to 14/1 (we'll be the top end here, I think) on soft ground are 16 from 73 (21.9% SR) for SP profits of 17.4pts (23.8% ROI & A/E of 1.20)
It's the layoff and inability to see races out that are the bigger issues here.
Now, a look at Getaround : a 5 yr old gelding with just six runs under his belt including a win and a place from three bumper starts followed by a 2 from 2 record (inc one at 2m7.5f record in Class 4 Novice Hurdles. His sixth and final effort was a month ago at Chepstow when he was fourth in a Grade 2 contest over an inadequate 2m3.5f, where he went well for a long time before being run out of it as the pace quickened.
So, three wins from six so far, including 3 from 5 under today's jockey, 3 from 5 in fields of 4-7 runners, 3 from 5 wearing a tongue tie, 2 from 2 beyond 2,5 miles (inc that win over slightly further than today) and he's 1 from 1 on soft ground, but has also won on heavy.
The Grade 2 was probably beyond him, based on both class and trip and whilst this is still one grade higher than his two novice hurdle successes, he did win by fourteen lengths on soft ground at Exeter over 2m7.5f, making all and pulling clear three out and I'd not be surprised to see a similar tactic here. He does, of course, have more weight to carry here, but he looked to have plenty in reserve during that win. The third placed horse that day, Young Buck, has since reappeared to win for Paul Nicholls in the last three weeks.
The bare data/stats suggest conditions look ideal for both runners from the Shortlist, but the truth is that one of these is just starting and one career is coming to a close. I get plenty of things wrong, but I just can't see Closing Ceremony getting involved here. I'll be surprised if he completes the race and if he does, he'll be much closer to the back than the front.
Getaround, on the other hand, I do like here. He's got everything going for him, bar his no-name jockey being out of form. Yet that jockey takes a valuable 3lbs off the top weight and he certainly knows how to get a tune out of this horse. The boy is running consistently well and a repeat of any of his three outings should be enough to land this.
He could very well try and win it from the front and put the race to bed from a distance out. If he's unable to do that, then there are very real challenges on the horizon from the likes of As I See It and others. That said, Getaround would be my preferred option here and 3/1 or better might not be a bad price once the markets fully form.