So, our 1-2-3 from Thursday's race finished NR-1-2 and despite not getting rich off a 6/4 winner (was 9/4 last night) and an 11/2 (10/1 overnight) runner-up combining for a forecast that paid almost 17/2, it was good to see that the Geegeez Gold racecard tools are applicable at the top levels of racing, plus I'm a couple of quid better off, which is never a bad thing!
Now, to Friday...the feature of the day is the Horses for Courses report, which does exactly what you think it would and our full, free-to-all daily races are...
- 2.10 York
- 2.50 Newmarket
- 4.40 Kilbeggan
- 5.20 Aintree
- 6.10 Hamilton
- 6.50 Kilbeggan
Once again the first on the list is the best of the bunch and seeing as my fairly stringent Horses for Courses criteria have produced no qualifiers, I'm going to turn my attentions to the Knavesmire for a third successive day to tackle the 2.10 York, the 8-runner, Oaks Farm Stables Fillies Stakes. This is a three year olds' Listed race registered as the Michael Seely Memorial and will be run over a mile on expected Good ground.
Snow Lantern is likely to be a short favourite for the £22,684 first prize but let's take a look for ourselves at the runners and riders...
The Geegeez ratings have Snow Lantern just behind Creative Flair at the head of the figures for a race where all eight have won at least once in their last three races. The top two in those SR ratings are the the two LTO winners and five of these ran at Class 1 last time out with Kestenna up 1 class, Creative Flair making two steps up and Snow Lantern moves from Class 4.
Only Shine For You is without a run inside the last six week and she now returns from a 31-week break. None of the eight have won here at York before, but half of them (Love Is You, Creative Flair, Kestenna & Snow Lantern) have won at this trip. Charlie Appleby and Richard Hannon are both double-handed here in a race the latter won in 2014 and that only one other trainer represented here has won in the last 15 runnings : Sir Michael Stoute who won this race in 2005 & 2013.
That's the intro/background to the race done, now let's look at the runners individually, starting with...
Love Is You, who is on her second run back after returning from a 6-month absence to finish 3rd of 10 at Newmarket (Rowley) in the Group 3 Nell Gwyn Stakes on April 14th over 7f, where she was 2.25 lengths behind Sacred and just 1.5 lengths behind Saffron Beach who has since been the runner-up in the 1,000 Guineas over a mile. A repeat of that run LTO puts her right in the mix here, having already won a Listed race back in October.
Creative Flair was only sixth of ten on debut in a Class 5 novice contest over 7f back in July, but is two from two since, the latest being a 1.5 length success over this trip (Class 3) at Ascot just over a fortnight ago, despite not having raced for 249 days. She's very well bred and is entitled to improve for having had that run and she looks the pick of the Appleby pair.
Divine Light is the other Appleby runner here and this filly by Kingman (as is Love Is You) makes just her third start. She only ran once as a 2 yr old, winning a soft ground Class 3 maiden over 7f at Newmarket before returning to the same track six months later in a creditable 5-length defeat in the Nell Gwyn. That run puts her behind Love Is You and it has to be said that the form from her debut win hasn't really worked out either with the 10 runners having a combined 0 wins and 0 places from 23 subsequent outings, including 15 runs at Classes 5/6.
Kestenna probably isn't as good as her career form line of 2112 might suggest. Her first three outings were all Class 5 novice contests over 8/8.5 furlongs and although she won the last of them by some nine lengths, she struggled at Class 2 last time out, failing to win a 3-horse race, despite being the 4/11 favourite. Hard to find many positives for her on her Turf debut, other than the looming presence of Class 1 specialist Frankie Dettori in the saddle, but I don't see him landing this.
Primo Bacio has got steadily better with each run so far and came back from a 4-month break to finish 4th of 17 in the Group 3 Fred Darling over 7f at Newbury almost four weeks ago at 100/1, going down by less than 2.5 lengths. Two of the runners further back that day have won Listed races since, but the three who beat her have all subsequently been beaten, so mixed messages on the form front. She's certainly got the breeding for a mile, but hasn't tackled the trip yet and she might find this tough.
Shine for You looks like the Hannon second stringer here and she hasn't been seen for 31 weeks since a very creditable third place in the Group 3 Oh So Sharp at Newmarket back in October. She was 1.75 lengths behind eventual 1,000 Guineas runner-up Saffron Beach that day and a similar run puts her close the standard set by Love Is You recently, but tackling 7f for the first time and coming off such a long lay-off, I don't fancy her chances.
Snow Lantern is out of quadruple-Class 1 winner (inc the 2013 1,000 Guineas) Sky Lantern by Frankel (whose pedigree needs no explanation) and the breeding alone is probably driving the odds right down. The filly, herself, only ran once as a 2 yr old, and was a 1.25 length runner-up in a 7f, Class 5 Novice contest at Ascot behind another Frankel filly, Zabeel Queen who has ran well in a couple of Class 1 races since. Snow Lantern was then back in the shed for 267 days before winning a Class 4 maiden over a mile at Newbury almost four weeks ago. This is a big step up in class, but her breeding is excellent.
Ville de Grace also returned from a long break to run at that Newbury meeting 26 days ago but she actually ran in a far better race than Snow Lantern and was less than 2.5 lengths off the leader in the Group 3 Fred Darling, just a nose behind the re-opposing Primo Bacio, despite having a car park draw in 17 of 17. Another run like that puts her right in the mix here in what is on paper, at least, a slightly easier task, but that last run was her first step up to 7f and now she's tackling a mile, so that tempers the enthusiasm a little.
Some good recent performances there, for sure, but not all will have run/won on good ground or at this class or here at York or over a mile or in a field of this kind of size. For that lowdown, you need Instant Expert on your side...
Only two of them (Love Is You & Snow Lantern) have made the frame on good ground so far with the latter the only winner, whilst the former is the only Class 1 winner on Turf, although Shine For You has been placed. None of the field have been to York before and the three to have tackled a mile in the past all won over the trip.
There seems to be a fairly definitive draw bias over this trip in 7-9 runner contests as demonstrated below, where a low draw is most beneficial, which is great news for the favourite, Love Is You and Creative Flair...
And that benefit of a low draw is well highlighted by the results from each individual stall...
And whilst I'm aware that's only based on eight races, it's hard to ignore the fact that 75% of the winners and 50% of the placers came from stalls 1-3. Now, once you've bagged a plum draw, you've still got to make the best of it and what we've found is that it's probably not the best to hare off, grab the lead and try to hold on. Leaders haven't fared well, whilst those racing prominently seem to have picked them off late on...
That said, it's still far better to lead than to drop further behind, but prominent racers do have 75% of the wins and 50% of the places, so imagine if you've a draw in stalls 1-3 and you like to race prominently?
Well, you'd be quids in, wouldn't you? Failing that, blasting off from a high draw is the next best option.
As well as knowing the draw, what race tactics work best and how those two intertwine, we also have an inkling of how these horses might approach the race too, because we log every race and here's how this octet have ran before...
...where 4 = led and 1 = held up. The average is, of course the average of the horse's runs and the Pc% is the horse's average divided by the sum of all 8 averages to give the pace percentage for the horse, so Creative Flair is expected to provide almost a fifth of it here.
We can then overlay those running styles onto the pace/draw heatmap, sort them into draw order and take what is effectively an overhead snapshot of how we think they might break out...
And there doesn't seem to be much pace around at all, aside from Creative Flair. There's a good chance she's going to try and nick this from the front with three or four hoping to pounce late on. Interestingly, the other two best-drawn horses look like they're going to have to come from well off the pace.
Creative Flair's heatmap isn't ideal, but someone has to lead them out or it becomes a slow tactical affair that would play into the hands of the finishers like Snow Lantern and Love Is You and as such Creative Flair's best chance might be to just go for it.
There's no doubting that Snow Lantern is an exciting proposition based on breeding, but I like proof and she's inexperienced and up considerably in class. She should be the best of these, but this might just come too soon for her. Either way, I can't back her at a generally available 6/4 with those doubts in my mind.
That, of course, doesn't mean she can't/won't win, but I'd be more inclined to have a pop at Creative Flair at 7/1. I think that's a big price as to whether she can get out, stay out and hold on. She might not win, but I expect us to get a good run for our money at decent odds. I'm confident she hangs on to a place in the first three home with Snow Lantern.
So who else makes the frame? In all probability, the answer (boringly) is 7/2 second favourite Love Is You, based on that Nell Gwyn run, but if the 7/1 about Creative Flair isn't long enough and you wanted a bit of a punt, Ville de Grace is available at 12/1!