Racing Insights

Racing Insights, 12th January 2021

I don't back many shorties, but I did say that 15/8 might have been a generous price about today's winner, Flagrant Delitiep who duly obliged at 5/4. This shows that there is still some value about at the sharper end of the market, as those of you who got on last night will have got 150% of SP, which is as good as backing a 6/1 winner at 9's from a value perspective.

Elsewhere, Volcano ran out of steam and was fourth, but I was right about Dusky Lark trying (and failing) to win from the front, we highlighted the place claims of Orrisdale, who was much bigger than 4/1 yesterday, Subcontinent placed once again and we called the last one home correctly. Mind you, as the 125/1 outsider, that's no real achievement. We did, however also guess Subcontinent's jockey change.

So, with plenty going as expected today and another couple of extra pounds in my pocket, I'll move on to Tuesday, where the feature of the day is The Shortlist Report and our free-to-all racecards are for...

  • 12.50 Fairyhouse
  • 1.10 Lingfield
  • 3.10 Wetherby
  • 5.30 Newcastle

I think I'll take a break from full race profiling today and look at the afore-mentioned Shortlist Report...

I'm not really interested in a horse scoring just 9 with doubts over class and trip, but the other three are all green in the areas they've competed. Sadly Bear Ghylls is a non-runner, but we still have two to take a look at.

My aim with the shortlist is not to automatically back Sizing Pottsie & Domaine de L'Isle, but to see if their lines of green are relevant to the task ahead, assess the chances of winning and see whether they're priced fairly. Unfortunately a horse's success at Going/class/course and distance is pretty public knowledge and such horses then tend to be overbet.

We start in Ireland with the 1.20 Fairyhouse, a 5-runner, heavy ground hurdle for 5yo+ over a 2 mile trip...

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A winner last time out (31 days ago) in a grade 2 chase over soft-to heavy ground here at Fairyhouse over this two-mile trip, this 7 yr old gelding now reverts back to hurdling for the first time in seven starts and thirteen months, having won three of those seven over fences. Sadly, his record in three efforts over hurdles isn't as good at 533, but he should at least be coming here with some confidence after a good year chasing.

To convert his shortlist rating into numbers and taking the opportunity to add a few more relevant stats from his career, we can see that he has...

  • 3 wins, 4 places from 10 with a tongue tie & 2 wins, 3 places from 9 going right handed
  • 3 wins, 3 places from 8 over 2 miles & 2 wins, 2 places from 6 in Irish races worth 5-10k
  • 2 wins, 1 place from 4 at this track & 2 wins, 1 place from 4 in fields of 1-7 runners
  • 1 win, 1 place from 3 under today's jockey & 0 wins, 2 places from 3 over hurdles
  • 2 wins from 2 on heavy ground & 1 from 1 at 31-60 days since his last run

His best effort over hurdles came at Navan on his last run before going chasing. That was over 2m on soft ground when 3rd of 23 and beaten by nine lengths in mid-December 2019. If he brings his chasing form to this contest, then he should very well be there or thereabouts, but there's no evidence to suggest that will happen. There's also some concern about the form of the yard, who have saddled just 8 winners from 103 hurdlers (7.8% SR) since the resumption of racing after the lockdown last June.

That, of course, doesn't mean he can't and won't win. Something for me to consider once I've looked at the markets later.


Before then, of course, I've got to look at Domaine de L'Isle in the 1.30 Wetherby, a 9-runner, Class 4 Novices Hurdle for 4yo+ horses over 2m5f on Heavy (soft in places) ground...

Runners 7 to 9 are making their debut under Rules and the other six horses have previously won 4 of 21 combined starts before today, so our boy's 3 wins from 9 make him the most experienced and most successful by far. He was in fine form around this time last year when rattling off a 42-day hat-trick of soft/heavy ground chase wins but has been out of the frame of late. That said, having won those three races at Classes 4, 3 and then 2, he has run at the following levels : Listed, Class 2, Gr 3 and C2 again, so a drop into Class 4 company should help.

Like the runner at Fairyhouse, all his best work has been over fences and he is 0 from 2 over the smaller obstacles. He was 3rd of 5 on debut in mid-may 2019 when beaten by 9 lengths over 3m 0.5f at this grade and was 4th of 6 in a Class 2 contest (Ballymore Novice Hurdle) at Cheltenham in October 2020 over 2m5.5f. In his defence that day, he was coming off an absence of 251 days and was quite badly hampered by a faller.

A lack of race sharpness told in the end (not ideal in the closing stages at HQ : the finish here is somewhat more benign) and he ended up 22 lengths behind the eventual winner, Does He Know, who then went on to win a Gr 2 over the same course and distance a month later.

Stat-wise, he has won 3 of 9 races, including under today's conditions...

  • 3/6 on soft/heavy, 3/6 in fields of 8-11 runners & 2/6 going left handed
  • 2/4 on soft, 2/2 in January & 1/2 at Class 4
  • 1/2 on heavy, 0/2 over hurdles and 1/1 over this 2m5f trip

Similarly to the Irish runner, his best chasing form puts him right in the mix here, but with no obvious sign that he might transfer that form. On a positive note, trainer Sean Curran is 9 from 29 (31% SR at an A/E of 2.67) over the past two months. Admittedly much of that action (4 wins from 14) has been on the A/W at Wolverhampton.


I'd have been far happier had these two Shortlist entries been running in chases, where the decision would probably have been more straightforward, but I can only tackle what's in from out of me, so here goes. Neither of them give much confidence that they'll suddenly start winning over hurdles based on past hurdle form. That said, the Fairyhouse runner is in good form right now and the Wetherby runner is dropping markedly in class.

So, to Sizing Pottsie : I'd have preferred Dreal Deal to beat him with the latter being longer priced and coming off a string of fives wins (3 x hurdles and 2 x flat) over trips ranging from 1m2f to 2m6f on ground ranging from good right through to heavy.

Sadly, whilst I've been writing this piece Dreal Deal seems to have been withdrawn from the race, leaving Sizing Pottsie looking like an odds on favourite. I've no interest in him at such odds and he should win the race (on paper, at least), but Percy Warner is no mug and warrants enough of a risk to deter me, if the 10/11 price tag didn't.

As for Domaine De L'Isle, he's a 4/1 shot which is probably fair. I'd have thought 5/1 possibly, but it's there or thereabouts. In opposition, A Large One Please won well enough last out, newcomer Rockstar Ronnie won a PTP last time and his team, the Skeltons, are in great form, whilst Onward Route ran a good race in defeat on hurdles debut last time out. All three of those are as appealing as Domaine, so I'll swerve what actually looks like a quite competitive contest after all.

The bottom line here is nothing ventured, nothing lost and another reminder that an isolated stat needs backing up. The Shortlist is an excellent report, but should be your way in to analysing a runner rather than being your main reason for backing it.


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