Friday's race went well for us, as the favourite was shorter than it should have been and was a little disappointing in the end, the one I said was the one to beat ended up as the winner and the one I hoped to have got an E/W price for went on to make the frame. I was even pleased to see the runner-up defying a lengthy absence to show us how good he might be this season, I think Fanion D'Estruval might well be one to watch going forwards.
But that's history now, so let's look at Saturday, where the free feature is the brilliant Trainer/Jockey Combo report, a report that I use every single day, whilst our free cards cover the following half dozen races...
- 12.50 Punchestown
- 2.23 Wetherby
- 2.35 Punchestown
- 2.42 Uttoxeter
- 6.30 Wolverhampton
- 8.30 Wolverhampton
Despite my love of the TJC report, I'm quite interested in the 2.42 Uttoxeter, a 6-runner, Class 3, Mares Novices Chase for 4yo+ over 3m on Good To Soft ground worth £7,668 to the winner. Although only six are set to go to post, it looks quite competitive so should be a decent race.
The official going is good to soft, but the track already has some soft patches and there's some serious rain on the way. Regular visitors to Uttoxeter will know how quickly the going can change there and there's every possibility of heavy ground come race time. So let's start with what information is already in the public domain ie the racecard...
And here we see that the first four on the racecard have all had the benefit of a recent run (all making their chase debuts) with three of them putting in decent efforts (Coded Message was beaten here by 52 lengths over 1.5 furlongs shorter four weeks ago). Legends Gold (winner LTO) and Deja Vue (runner-up last week) are both stepping up in class, whilst Early Morning Rain comes off the back of a 259 day break and drops two classes , having last run in a Listed contest on heavy ground.
Plenty of in-form trainers on display here (14 30) and plenty with good course records (C1 C5) and a couple of jockeys in good nick, whilst Bryony Frost also has the C1 course form tag. I won't set too much stall on the ratings today as three have no ratings due to not having raced over fences before.
One last thing I want to mention before moving on is that Geegeez sponsor the yard and jockey of Deja Vue and jockey Rex Dingle is a rising star with a 24 from 128 record this year, whilst trainer Anthony Honeyball is the highest strike rate trainer in Britain OR Ireland since the start of 2019!
That aside, it's time to look at the horses' suitability for the task ahead and once again Instant Expert is our friend. Please note that I'm anticipating difficult stamina-sapping conditions by altering my going tabs to Soft to Heavy and the distances are now 3m to 3m2f, as we're going to need proven stayers who like mud...
...and we see that Legends Gold and Early Morning Rain are proven on soft or worse, whilst Coded Message and Deja Vue both have a couple of wins too, whilst Carrolls Milan is interesting from a class/distance perspective.
Small field races can often be tactical affairs, so the pace make-up of the race could be crucial here...
...so the place to be is upfront and out of trouble, but with both Deja Vue and Carrolls Milan both wanting to lead, the danger here is that they take each other on and expend too much early energy leaving the door open for Legends Gold.
At this point, I'm going to cut half of the field from my considerations : Coded Message was poor last time out, her IE numbers weren't great and she's going to struggle if held up, so she's an obvious one to avoid. Early Morning Rain drops in class and has run well in the mud, but I don't think this is the race to try and win after such a long absence, whilst Deputy's Oscar looks up against it based on her absence, no previous chase experience, the trip is further than she's been before and she's unproven on soft or worse ground. She was, admittedly, a runner-up on heavy ground last time out but that was (a) a long time ago, (b) over half a mile shorter than this race and (c) a poor race where the 13 runners are a combined 3 from 46 since that day.
All of which leave me with a a fairly well matched trio again, this time featuring Carroll's Milan, Deja Vue and Legends Gold...
Carroll's Milan made a very encouraging start to her chasing career when second of five over an inadequately short trip at Perth just over seven weeks ago. Not only did she need further that day, it was also a first run in 200 days.
She had two wins and a place from three efforts at 2m7.5f / 3m over hurdles, suggesting the step up to today's trip will be in her favour. As well as having had the benefit of a previous run this season, she has had the longest rest of the three who have raced recently.
A real chance here, but my main concern is that her 3 from 13 hurdles record includes 0/7 on anything softer than good.
Deja Vue is, as you now know, trained by Anthony Honeyball who won this race last year with Midnight Tune. Deja will have to step up after disappointing last time out on her chase debut. Well fancied and sent off as an 11/10 favourite she was well beaten by 18 lengths at Fontwell eight days ago, making several errors. That said, she had been in the shed for 259 days and could very well have needed the run. Whether eight days is enough rest, time will tell but Mr Honeyball is a far better judge of those things than I'll ever be!
On her past form, the signs are promising with a record of 2 wins and a place from four starts on heavy ground and she's a proven jumper via a PTP win in Ireland over today's trip. Definite player here, if it hasn't come around too soon.
And finally, Legends Gold, who was a winner on chase debut 37 days ago. She won by two lengths over 2m3.5f at Ffos Las that day on the usual heavy ground and whilst this represents a huge jump in trip, she has a win and a place from two efforts at today's trip. She's the type to rack up a decent run of wins as shown in 2019 when she finished 11161 (only defeat was at Class 2) ahead of tackling a Listed contest where she was only eight lengths behind Indefatigable who then went on to win at this year's Cheltenham Festival, ironically when partnered by Deja Vue's jockey, the Geegeez-sponsored Rex Dingle!
Legends also won her only crack at a 3m PTP, so that's another tick in the box marked trip and having had over five weeks rest after her last run, I think the only fly in the ointment is her 5lb penalty for the win, as conceding weight all round is never ideal over long trips on mud, but she's definitely one to watch.
A tricky-looking six-runner contest, which looks just as tricky when whittled down to three runners. Sadly, as I look at the market for the first time, I find the bookies agree with me and they're struggling to split my three. Bet365 go 5/2 the trio, a price I expected for Carroll's Milan based on her last run. I thought Legends Gold might be 11/4 or 3/1 due to the weight concern and Deja Vue was 7/2 to 4/1 in my eyes after her last effort.
I'd be surprised if these aren't the first three home and more surprised if I've not got the winner here, but we're not getting rich today. I don't have much between them but I'd have them in this order...1. Legends Gold, 2. Carrolls Milan, 3. Deja Vue, although everyone at Team Geegeez will be happy if I've got that back to front!