Tuesday's "feature of the day" is the Shortlist Report, which highlights runners proven under similar race conditions and our free "races of the day" are as follows...
- 1.00 Carlisle
- 1.45 Catterick
- 3.35 Carlisle
- 5.40 Newcastle
Carlisle are optimistic about racing going ahead, so let's tackle a heavy ground chase aka the 3.35 Carlisle...
Beat Box won a soft ground hurdle over 2m0.5f just over a year ago, but hasn't really kicked on since. Record over fences reads 353, but was beaten by 21 lengths LTO over a similar trip to today on good to soft ground at this grade. Only previous run on heavy saw him finish 3rd of 4 in a Class 4 contest over 2m0.5f where he was beaten by 39L. Not for me here.
Candy Burg is four from nine over fences and won a Class 5 2m contest on heavy ground by 14 lengths at Ffos Las earlier this month. He has been slapped with an 11lb rise for that win and whilst clearly not the horse he was in 2018/19, it is just 17 months ago that he was winning a Class 3 off a mark 15lbs higher than today. He's not guaranteed to run well in back to back contests, but must be in with a chance of making the frame at least.
Darling Alko is fairly lightly raced after 4 bumpers, 3 hurdles and 3 chases and has finished 123 over fences. His win was over 2m0.5f on soft ground at Ludlow off a mark just 5lbs lower than today and he's had the benefit of a pipe-opener in an A/W jumpers bumper recently, finishing fourth at Lingfield and beaten by just 7.5 lengths after an absence of over 10 months. Should come on for the run and could well make the frame at a decent price.
Demopolis is 1 from 1 over fences after landing a Class 4 soft ground contest by four lengths over two miles at Ludlow almost a year ago. He has since finished 1421 over hurdles and comes here in great nick following a heavy ground success last time out. He's rated just 5lbs higher over fences than that last hurdles win (although his hurdles mark will also rise next time) and has the benefit of in-form Richard Johnson in the saddle.
Kalaharry had a decent 2020 even if he didn't win often enough finishing 12326 with the penultimate of those races being his chase debut. He was second of three that day just two lengths behind an odds on favourite with the other runner some 26 lengths further back. You don't learn much from three-runner contests, but he got some Class 4 and heavy ground experience and staying 2m7.5f vouched for his stamina. He looked like he needed the run when well beaten last time out, but that was his comeback after 9 months off, so more is expected here, although I'm not expecting much better than mid-field.
Miss Amelia is the only mare in the race and this daughter of Midnight Legend has already won three times over fences, including one on heavy ground. Her last four results over fences read 1312 and the first of those runs was the heavy ground win, when she scored at this grade over 2m1.5f at Bangor, finishing 17 lengths clear of the field some 14 months ago. She's up in class today but should still give a decent account of herself, but I doubt that will be enough here.
Pistol Park was a useful chaser from April 2016 to April 2018, but three long lay-offs and six indifferent efforts since have somewhat taken the shine off his past exploits. He was last of three beaten by 33 lengths six starts ago and was then pulled up in each of his next two. He returned from a 256 day break to get within 8 lengths of the winner at Ayr back in October, but has been beaten by 58 and 36 lengths in two runs since. His best days are definitely behind him and a drop in class won't enough to get him involved here.
Pookie Pekan is 3 from 16 over fences, but it has been a while since we've seen a decent run from him. He won nicely at this grade in November 2019 and he was expected to move on from there, but struggled in four runs upped in trip. He was dropped right back down to 2m0.5f LTO, but was still beaten by some 25 lengths at Haydock on heavy ground 24 days ago and although he's down in class here, others look better placed.
Skipping On might well be 12 yrs old now, but was consistently decent in 2020 finishing 4232321 (2322 on heavy). He struggled last time out when pulled up at Ayr in a Class 4 contest over 2m5.5f on heavy ground and it is hoped that the return to a shorter trip gets him going again. He has won over fences here at Carlisle in the past on heavy ground and if running like he did in 2020 would have a great chance. The worry, I suppose, is that the LTO run is start of a demise.
Well Above Par has been significantly below par of late, if truth be told, since winning at Kelso six starts ago. Subsequently beaten by 18 then 31 lengths, he was pulled up before racing twice more, going down by 36 and 28 lengths. He has two chase victories to his name including one at a higher grade on heavy ground, but I'd be massively surprised if he was anywhere near in this one. I'd be less surprised if he finished last.
Zuckerberg might or might not make up the field here. I don't actually expect him to run as he fulfilled an engagement at Warwick this afternoon where he finished 14th of 18 over hurdles, more than 50 lengths off the pace. That didn't surprise me at all to be honest, as he's shown very little since coming to the UK and I expected him to struggle here under top weight. Whether he runs here or not is largely irrelevant for our purposes, he's not winning this race!
Excluding Zuckerberg, who I don't expect to line up, this field have clocked up some miles in a combined 189 races yielding 57 places (30%) including 36 wins (19%). That win strike rate is decent enough and they have also made the frame in 19 (38%) of 50 heavy ground contests, winning 9 (18%) of them. Heavy ground form is very important, as it's likely to be bottomless here. Thankfully, we have Instant Expert to show us who the mudlarks might be...
I've ordered the above purely on heavy ground wins, as I'm more interested in those with past form in the mud and on the basis of that graphic, I'd be expecting the winner to come from the first five listed. The rise in weight is a concern for Candy Berg and Demopolis although the latter is probably this high over hurdles anyway.
Our projected pace map for this race is as follows...
...and I think that in these conditions, I'd want to be sat in mid-division conserving some energy for the closing stages. Well Above Par is likely to do too much too soon, as is often the case and I didn't really like the chances of the three at the top of the graphic before I even saw the pace map, so that seals that for me.
Based on what I've read on the racecard, what I've written about each, the Instant Expert and also the pace map, the ones I'm still interested in are Candy Burg, Darling Alko, Demopolis and Skipping On.
I think that on their day, any of the four could win, but I prefer the latter pair to the former pair. I've concerns about the weight for Candy Burg and Darling Alko just doesn't win often enough. I've got them ranked as being pretty much equal to each other, but at 16/1 opposed to 3/1, Darling Alko makes for a much better E/W punt.
As for the winner, Demopolis looks the safer bet. There's no guarantees that 12 yr olds can bounce back from a poor run, because if I thought Skipping On could do that, then 15/2 would be a cracking price. What I feel/fear might happen is that he gives a cracking account of himself and the 5/2 fav Demopolis just beats him.