For Saturday's race, I said..."I think Requited (7/1), Oh So Nice (10/1) and Lethal Blast (9/1) are all pretty close to each other"... and indeed they were only 2 lengths apart. Sadly they finished 5th, 6th and 7th and the nearest I got to calling it right was a good run from Lady Florence to finish second after being drawn widest of all.
Ah, well, that's the nature of sticking your neck out daily, I suppose, but no time to dwell on it as Monday is approaching. The PACE tab is available to everyone for all races, including our featured free races, which are...
- 1.00 Huntingdon
- 1.50 Redcar
- 3.20 Redcar
- 4.00 Huntingdon
The second of the two Flat races above is probably the best of the four free races and although it's highly likely there'll be a pretty warm favourite, (a) he might not win and (b) we might find a nicely-priced E/W bet to chase the fav home. So Monday's race in focus is the 3.20 Redcar, an 11-runner, Class 3 Flat handicap for 4yo+ runners on Good ground, that will be firmer in places. The top prize is £6,210 and it will go to one of these...
All bar two have a win in their last five starts, we have plenty of class movers (3 droppers and 4 risers), all bar two have had a run in the last six weeks and we've one handicap debutant.
Hayadh bears top weight and has won two of his last seven in a career that has seen him win seven times at trips of 7 to 8.5 furlongs, including six on ground varying from good to soft through to good to firm. Can be excused for finishing 6th LTO in this grade as it came after a 173-day break and he only went down by 3.75 lengths.
Dawalaleeb had a good winter on the A/W and has won 5 of 10 starts away from turf. He's a former course and distance winner, who was only beaten by a nose the last time he came here (also over C&D) back in September. He returned to the turf with a very creditable run in the Class 2 Spring Mile at Doncaster where he was beaten by just over 4 lengths and now drops in both class and weight to run here.
Zhui Feng won on his debut for his new yard in February and was only beaten by less than two lengths next/last time out. He's probably better suited by a return to turf and could well make the frame if things fall his way.
Kettle Hill is the likely odds-on favourite and after finishing just 5th of 8 (beaten by over 10L) on debut at Wolverhampton at the end of last June, he has won both his races since, albeit some 8 months apart. Both were over 8.5f as he landed a Class 5 maiden at Windsor by half a length and then a Class 5 Novice race at Wolverhampton by three lengths four weeks ago. The 2nd and the 7th from that race have won again at Class 4/5, but the 4th and 5th have both been beaten at Class 5. And the second's win was a Class 5 handicap off a mark of 70, so Kettle Hill might not have it all his own way here off 85.
He makes a handicap debut today and although his yard are 57 from 282 (20.2% SR) with Flat handicap debutants since 2015, those figures generate a loss at SP of over 13% and the A/E on those runs is just 0.84.
Global Spirit has a big chance here, if ready to go first up after a break of 168 days. He had two wins and three places from seven on turf last season and was only beaten by less than four lengths at this class/grade/mark last time out. He'd clearly need to improve to win and you are always taking fitness on trust after a break, but on pure ability, he could make the frame.
Brother McGonagall is the first of four in the race that I don't want to even think about backing. He was 9th of 10 last time out, beaten by almost 12 lengths in a Class 4 handicap some 262 days ago and that race came after a 289-day absence, so purely based on that last run and the fact that he has only raced once in the last eighteen months, it's a no from me.
Home Before Dusk would be in my calculations if this was an all-weather contest where he has a 26% strike rate in handicaps, but he's actually 0 from 14 on turf. This, of course, will be easier than the Class 2 Spring Cup he contested last time out where he was more than 11 lengths behind Dawaaleeb, but even though he's 5lb better off for the "re-match", I don't think he can reverse the placings.
Give It Some Teddy is a Jekyll & Hyde character and is totally unreliable, making him my second "unbackable" here. Don't get me wrong, he's got ability, as he won here over C&D at Class 2 off a pound higher back in October 2019, but since that day his story reads...293 days off / 11th of 11 at Class 4 / 4th of 15 at Class 4 / 10th of 10 at Class 3 / 137 days off and then 8th of 8 in a Class 4 last time out. Not for me, I'm afraid.
Defence Treaty has also been unreliable in the past and has a shaky record of just 1 win and 4 places from 16 on the Flat, but should come here with some hope after seeming to be reinvigorated by a winter on the A/W at Southwell and Newcastle, showing his versatility for underfoot conditions whilst winning twice and finishing as a runner-up twice in seven starts. Up in class, but off the same mark here and has an outside chance of the frame if translating his winter form to the Turf.
Jewel Maker is just 1 from 21 on the Flat and although his form figures over the winter on the all-weather look impressive at 2314413, the two wins were at Class 6 (by 2.5L) and then by a head in a Class 5. This race is much tougher and he was beaten by more than 8 lengths off this mark in a Class 4 last time out. He was admittedly 2nd over C&D here on his last turf run, but that was also a Class 6 contest and he carries 20lbs more here. He's my third unbackable.
Motawaafeq makes up the field and pretty much just helps to make up the numbers here as my final stage 1 reject. His only saving grace is that he's getting weight (plenty in some cases) from the rest of the runners, but comes here having finished 19th of 20 in that afore-mentioned Spring Mile, more than 27 lengths off the pace and whilst he's down a class, he has only been dropped a pound by the assessor. That was his sixth run on turf and when you consider the previous results were 2nd of 4, 6th of 9, 6th of 16, 4th of 11 and 6th of 11 at Classes 4 and 5, you see why he's not for me today.
So, at this point, I'm discarding Brother McGonagall, Give It Some Teddy, Jewel Maker and Motawaafeq ahead of assessing race suitability via Instant Expert. As I'm looking for a decent priced placer as well as the winner, I'm going to consider both win and place records in past Flat handicaps..
Not a lot to write home about from a win perspective, but my notes would be that Hayadh gets the ground, Zhui Feng's rating is interesting at 20lbs lower than his last Turf win, Kettle Hill is on handicap debut, hence no figures, but his yard haven't excelled at HC1, Home Before Dusk is, of course, winless on turf and Defence Treaty might be carrying too much weight.
From a place perspective for E/W betting...
...they all look better than the win graphic bar Home Before Dusk, whose figures are still unappealing. The first three all look like solid placers, but it's Global Spirit that catches the eye if primed to fire first up.
Not many have tried to take it on from the get go, but those who have tried, have been rewarded with a couple of wins, but have generally failed to cling on to a place once caught. From a place perspective, hold up horses have fared best and across the board, I'd say mid-division was the worst running style to have in a contest like this.
Here, the extremes seem to have it from a win perspective and although stalls 4 to 6 have picked up 10 of the 36 available places, I'd suggest that berths 4 to 8 wouldn't be ideal for our runners today.
Pace & Draw...
Based on the above individual pace / draw stats, the huge swathe of red through the middle draw won't be a surprise, but what might not have been expected is the fact that mid-drawn leaders have had the most success followed by low-drawn mid-division runners.
And now based on their most recent runs, here's how we think this race might unfold using the pace and draw stats...
Brother McGonagall and Home Before Dusk look to have the best pace/draw make-up here, but I don't see either of them going on to make the frame never mind winning. I had seven runners in my mind after completing the write-ups and then five after the Instant Expert analysis and they were Defence Treaty, Dawaaleeb, Global Spirit, Kettle Hill and Zhui Feng and although the above pace/draw heat map also makes a case for Hayadh and Home Before Dusk, I think I've already found enough negatives against them.
We've taken eleven down to less than half, but I can't go with five against the field, so let's start at the obvious starting point : Kettle Hill. Only Hills had a price up at 5.40pm and this horse was 11/10. That's a really short price for a horse I don't think is too well treated off 85, runners from his past races haven't set the world on fire and his yard are just OK with handicap debutants. He could be a great horse, but he could be nothing. Bottom line for me is that there are too many unanswered questions to back him at 11/10.
Next up is Defence Treaty, who looks set to be up with the pace which is a tactic that not only hasn't really panned out for him in the past, it's also one that regularly fails in this type of contest from a high draw. Add in his dismal record on turf and he's now gone.
This leaves me with Dawaleeb, Global Spirit and Zhui Feng to consider. Dawaaleeb has ticked boxes everywhere we've looked and his pace/draw make-up isn't dreadful. I fancy him to lead early, see off Defence treaty and attempt to hold on. He ran really well for a long way in that Spring Mile and he's the biggest threat to the favourite for me and you can get 7's about him. He'd be the winner from that trio for me, if the fav doesn't fire as the market expects.
Global Spirit might end up running on fumes or from memory late on, but if ready to go first up, has excellent credentials at 14/1 E/W. Zhui Feng is too short for me at 13/2 and isn't drawn well for his running style.
So, I like Dawaleeb & Global Spirit here and the fav will no doubt be involved somewhere along the line!