The Shortlist report is Tuesday's free feature open to all readers, regardless of Gold status and this report highlights horses running under conditions in which they performed well in the past. We also have a list of free races each day, accessible to all readers and for Tuesday, they are set to be...
- 1.05 Thirsk
- 2.20 Stratford
- 4.20 Ascot
- 5.55 Sligo
- 6.40 Beverley
The Ascot race is clearly the best of that selection and although I'm pretty that one (or more) of my more qualified Geegeez colleagues will be previewing the race, I'm still going to look at it from a toolkit perspective. If I end up agreeing with the other previews, that should cement the opinions or it might just be that I find something I like that they don't!
So, without further ado, my race preview for Tuesday is for the 4.20 Ascot, the 13-runner, Group 1, St James's Palace Stakes. It's for 3 yr old colts over a mile on Good ground (firmer in places) and the prize is a cool £198,485. Here's the card for the event...
As it's such a big race at a prestigious meeting, I'm already aware that Poetic Flare is a clear favourite and he'd certainly be high on my list of possibles for this, but I shall try not to let the market cloud my interpretation of the tools.
Often with these big races, I use the tools as a process of elimination before analysing the runners them selves, so things will be ordered slightly differently today and we'll come back to the card itself later, but I want to look at Instant Expert first...
Here I'm drawn to Chindit and Naamoos on the going and Chindit & Poetic Flare at Class 1. I'm not treading too much into prior course form, as we've only three to visit here before and all won, whilst over a mile, only Chindit has scored more than once, although many of this field have clocked up wins at 7f.
At this point, I'm ready to discard Wembley (generally) and Ontario (0/6 at Class 1), as I now look at the draw stats...
This would appear to favour those drawn in the central 6 to 8 stalls, although the widest draws still have 3 wins from 24, but as a three-box cluster six to eight look best, pointing toward Thunder Moon, Poetic Flare and Chindit.
As for running style, I've widened the parameters slightly to give me a more workable sample size and there's a clearly favoured way of winning here...
...and that is to sit just off the pace. Leaders have fared poorly from both a win and place perspective and for winners you want to be on a prominent racer, whilst mid-division horses also tend to come through later to make the frame. The graphic below shows ho they have run on their last three outings...
Naamoos looks like the pace horse here and that's probably not going to do him any favours. On that basis, I'm going to rule him out here along with Bullace and Maximal, as I've just got a feeling they'll get dragged along too quickly.
At this point, I'm also very aware that ruling horses out this way might mean I overlook the winner, but I've now reduced my 13-runner field now to just eight ie...
- Highland Avenue
- La Barrosa
- Lucky Vega
- Poetic Flare
- Thunder Moon
A quick check on the market shows I could probably have saved myself some time by just crossing the five longest priced horses off, but I assure that's purely coincidental. Now let's go back and look at the eight runners. Bookies will pay five places here, so whilst I'd like to find the winner, I'm also interested in finding a couple of E/W options if possible.
Our Instant Expert graphic now looks like this...
and whilst Lucky Vega is the sort to make the frame, I don't see him winning and I wouldn't want to be backing him E/W at 7/1, so he goes here leaving me with seven to consider.
Battleground won a 7f Listed contest and a Group 2 race over the same trip in back to back outings last summer, the first of which was the Chesham Stakes at this very meeting. He came back from nine months of to tackle a mile for the first time last month, when 13th of 14 in the 2,000 Guineas at Newmarket. He'd be entitled to come on for that run, but others are more proven on this quicker ground and at this trip.
Chindit was fifth in that 2,000 Guineas race, more than 15 lengths ahead of Battleground, but still a good four lengths behind the re-opposing winner Poetic Flare. There's a suggestion that he raced too far off the pace that day, but he was being riden by his usual jockey and they had won four of his other five starts, so maybe the instructions were wrong. That aside, he's a winner at Listed, Gr3 and Gr2 company, but might have to wait a little longer for a Gr1 prize.
Highland Avenue has never finished out of the first two home in all five starts since his debut just over six months ago. The hihlights of his short career so far have been his last two races with a win and runner-up berth in Listed contests, the latter being a half length defeat to Mostahdaf on soft ground at Sandown almost four weeks ago, but he was giving the winner 3lbs and they'll now re-oppose on equal terms, so I'd fancy him to overturn that deficit. As for winning this one, I'm doubtful, it's a huge step from losing a Listed contest to winning a Group 1.
La Barrosa has only made four starts before today, but has two wins so far, including a Group 3 last season at Newmarket, which was followed 203 days later by a 0.75 length defeat at the same track when tackling a mile for the first time in the Gr3 Craven Stakes. Since then he has been beaten by almost eight lengths on his Gr1 debut when probably not suited by the pace of the race nor the soft/heavy ground at the Curragh for the Irish 2,000 Guineas, but a return to quicker ground should see him closer today.
Mostahdaf is an unbeaten son of Frankel, who backed up a Class 5, 7f Novice success with a Class 2 win over a mile three weeks later. His third and final outing saw him tackle turf for the first time, as he won a 1m Listed contest at Sandown, where he finished stronger than Highland Avenue, but was carrying 3lbs less. After going 3 from 3 inside less than ten weeks and just doing enough in his last couple, it's tough to say what he's likely to be, but I just feel he'll need to step up again to stay ahead of Highland Avenue, never mind win here!
Poetic Flare is certainly the one to beat after winning the 2,000 Guineas trial at Leopardstown (Listed) in April despite coming off a 176-day absence before going on to win the 2,000 Guineas at Newmarket less than three weeks later and was only a short head away from completing the Guineas double at the Curragh last time out, denied only by his own stable mate. That was on Soft/Heavy ground and he has won on Good to Firm ground too, showing his versatility, he gets the mile readily enough and you can see why he's the favourite here, especially after seeing these head to head results against today's field over this trip...
Thunder Moon only raced three times as a 2 yr old, but landed a 7f Gr1 at the Curragh last September and was only beaten by 2.5 lengths when 3rd in the Gr1 Darley Dewhurst Stakes at Newmarket four weeks later, also over 7f. At that pint, you'd be thinking that if he got a mile, then similar levels of performance would ut him in the mix, but he was then off track for 203 days and was last home of 14 in the 2,000 Guineas, beaten by 23 lengths on his first crack at a mile and his first run on good to firm ground. He's sure to improve for having that run at trip/going as well as breaking a long absence, but I'm doubtful he can improve enough so quickly to land a real blow here.
The toolkit pointed to Chindit as the most likely winner here, whilst the form and write-ups point to Poetic Flare and I suspect they'll be the first two home here with the favourite just having too much for Chindit. The fav is 4/1 in places which seems reasonable, whilst the 9/1 about Chindit suggests he'd be worth an E/W bet.
Of the others I was considering, I think that Battleground & Mostahdaf would be the two I'd leave out of the five for the place, leaving me with Highland Avenue, La Barrosa and Thnder Moon to fight it out for minor honours. The first and last of that trio are 8/1 and 10/1 respectively and don't appeal to me as E/W bets, if I can get 9's about Chindit, but La Barrosa is available at 20/1 and I'm definitely interested in him at that sort of price.