Not quite falling for me right now, but we go again on Monday, where the pace tab is made available to all readers for all races, including the races of the day, which are set to be...
- 6.05 Bangor
- 6.15 Roscommon
- 6.35 Bangor
- 7.05 Bangor
Looks like we're off to the jumps! The three UK races are all small field affairs, but the last of them is, at Class 3, the highest rated of them, so today's focus is the 7.05 Bangor, a 7-runner, Class 3, 4yo+ handicap hurdle over 2m7f on good ground. The pot offered is £4,956 and here are the runners, riders and my report angle stats...
Drumlee Watar is the form horse, having won three on the bounce, but Catchmeifyoucan is seeking a hat-trick. Four of the seven (inc the two I just mentioned) are up in class. All bar Victarion (164 days) have raced in the last month or so, ages range from 7 to 10, lots of inform jockeys/trainers and some course stats for them too. Looks like it might be a decent contest at first glance.
Justatenner hasn't won since the end of October last year and his best effort since was when 5th of 9 at Cartmel in May, beaten by 7.5 lengths and was about the same distance off the pace at Uttoxeter last time out. Now 5lbs below his last winning mark, he should have a chance at the weights, but would need some pace in the race. I'd also say that he'd be better suited if this race was at Ayr, or on softer ground, or over a longer trip, so others might tick more boxes for you.
Drumlee Watar steps up to Class 3 for the first time after a string of fine results (22111) in Class 4 hurdles that have seen his mark go up from 110 to today's 125. Ground and trip are fine here, he gets on well with his jockey who is 11/49 here over five years and performs best in these small fields. The usual cheekpieces and tongue tie are in situ and although this is tougher up in class and weigh, the manner of his last two handicap wins suggests he'll be involved late on.
Neverbeen To Paris has been kept fit/sharp with four efforts on the Flat at trips varying from 1m6f to 2m2f with a couple of decent runs at the shorter trip. From a hurdling perspective he has been beaten in all nine runs since back to back Class 4 wins over 2m5f/2m5.5f back in April/May 2019. He's still 9lbs heavier than that last win and I'd say the assessor is beating him right now.
Catchmeifyoucan comes here looking for a hat-trick after two wins inside five days in mid-July. As you'd expect, she's now 1 class and 11lbs higher than that first win, but has already been a runner-up (bt by 1.25L) in this grade at the end of May. She's got her preferred rider on board, going and trip are ideal and she should be there or thereabouts again here. As per my report angles above, the yard does well here and the jockey is in good nick.
Morraman looks one of the weaker candidates here and reading between the lines, you can't help but feel something isn't or hasn't been quite right with him. Finishes of 1341 in the 2018/19 season hinted at promise, but he has only raced twice since the 19th October 2019. He ran at Cheltenham after a break of 395 days and was then off track for another 246 days prior to coming home 6th of 7 at Cartmel a month ago. That might well have been the run he needed to get going again, but I'm not sure. He does have a 50% place strike rate (7 from 14) and has made the frame off higher marks, but I think he wants a lower grade/shorter trip than here.
Victarion hasn't faced a hurdle since falling when well held at the last at Southwell in early December 2019 and has only raced three times since, all over fences where he was pulled up, beaten by 11 lengths and most recently beaten by almost 30 lengths. Now on his third trainer in three starts, he's best left watched.
Calum Gilhooley was first past the post two starts ago, but as his saddle slipped at the last, he lost his weight cloth and was somewhat unluckily disqualified. He put that behind him to finish a 1.5 length runner-up at Cartmel last month despite stepping up to Class 3. He's now just 2lbs heavier than that run, but a similar effort must put him in the hunt here. His best form has admittedly been over shorter trips and a mark of 117 might just be beyond him, but I'd expect him to be having a go.
At this point, it still looks fairly open, but I'm not too keen on the likes of Morraman or Victarion. Perhaps Instant Expert's overview of relevant form will help clarify things...
If we look at all NHF/hurdles outings...
...we see that Justatenner really doesn't go well on good ground, but is a three-time Class 3 winner. Catchmeifyoucan and Morraman have the best good ground form, whilst Calum Gilhooley is a former class and course winner. All seven have won in and around this trip, whilst Drumlee Watar and Neverbeen To Paris are up in weight most from their last win.
If we then restrict ourselves to just handicap form...
...Catchmeifyoucan looks even better on good ground and is very good at the trip and probably becomes the eyecatcher from Instant Expert.
There's obviously no draw to contend with here, but pace is really important here at Bangor, where in these smaller field handicaps on good ground, horses that lead do far better than any other running style...
...and when our horses have run like this over their last three outings...
...it looks like Drumlee Watar might well try and put this race to bed early.
I've always leant towards the two form horses, Drumlee Watar and Catchmeifyoucan and there's little between them on form and on my own rankings. Catchmeifyoucan came out best on Instant Expert, but I'm really concerned about the hold-up tactics here.
I do like Catchmeifyoucan, but I think that Drumlee Watar might get too far ahead for the mare to catchup, so I'm going to side with Drumlee to beat Catch here.
Had there been more runners and a possible E/W punt, Neverbeen To Paris might have been interesting at double-digit odds, but it would have been very small stakes if any.
Unsurprisingly, the bookies have my pair as the 11/4 jt favs and that's probably fair.