As was pretty much expected, the even money favourite Star of St James prevailed at Southwell this afternoon/evening with my "biggest danger" the 13/2 overnight Native Silver finishing just a half length back as runner-up. Well done to those jumping on the forecast/exacta (the latter paid 5.2/1), but sadly my "E/W pick at a price" runner was withdrawn.
Saturday's free feature is the marvellous Trainer/Jockey Combo Report, which highlights successful partnerships whilst our free racecards for the following races are open to all readers...
- 12.40 Warwick
- 2.35 Lingfield
- 2.40 Market Rasen
- 3.00 Warwick
- 3.10 Lingfield
And the last of those five looks the most open/competitive, plus it's unlikely to be abandoned, so today's focus is on the 3.10 Lingfield...
The sharp eyed amongst you will notice I've already eliminated three runners who are greyed out at the bottom of the card. These look like no-hopers in dreadful form and shouldn't be ones to worry us. I've greyed them out for you, so you can see what happens when you click the X just before the course and distance win indicators. To put them back in the card, simply click the X again.
And so to the race itself after removing that trio, the remainder of the field all have at least decent run in the recent form, with Total Commitment, Recon Mission and Sun Power the ones to have won lately. Huraiz & Will To Win are both dropping down from Class 2, whilst Recon Mission and Count Otto both step up in class here.
All seven have won at this 6f trip with four also winning here at Lingfield in the past, of which two (Will To Win & Count Otto) have won over course and distance at the same time! None of them are being turned back out quickly, nor are any coming off long breaks, as all have had at least two weeks rest and 51 days being the longest absence.
Count Otto is the oldest here at 6, but the other half dozen are all 4 or 5, From a trainer perspective, Huraiz & Will To Win both hail from yards with good track records, whilst the former's trainer is in great form of late, as is his jockey and the partnership has worked well here at Lingfield in the past. Ratings-wise, they're a fairly well bunched group, but Will To Win is a little detached on 65, I suppose.
Instant Expert is our next port of call, as that's the indicator of past performance under today's conditions. Obviously that's no guarantee of future success, but if a horse has gone well in the past over course and distance for example, there's a chance he/she will do so again at some point. Anyway, I'm waffling, so let's crack on...
...where we see that Will to Win & Sun Power have the best of the winning records on A/W and Count Otto looks to have struggled. No real standouts at Class 3, to be honest, but Top Breeze's 0/6 isn't good, nor I suppose is Count Otto's 3 from 18. Will To Win has 2 wins and a place from 4 on this track which is the best on offer, but don't be fooled by Total Commitment's 0 from 4 record. It looks poor but he has finished in the frame on all four occasions.
Plenty of wins at this trip across the board and Will To Win & Total Commitment have some place finishes to push their place records to 50% and beyond.
From a win perspective, Instant Expert shows Will To Win in a very good light and he has some positives from the racecard, but can he win from stall 9? It might be tough, as history suggests that in 99 previous similar races, stalls 8 to 10 are the worst place to be...
...but wherever you're drawn, you want to be up with the pace. So do we have any confirmed front runners? The pace tab knows the answer to that question...
...suggesting Sun Power and Recon Mission will attempt to set the pace with Top Breeze not very far behind and when we overlay the running styles with the general pace-draw heatmap from recent similar contests, we get the following...
...where I'd say Top Breeze has the best position. I expect he'll break smartly but won't be too upset if the other come past him early from wider draws.
At this stage, I'm going to discard Huraiz and Count Otto, neither have featured too positively so far and aren't in great form right now, but that still leaves me half of the field to pick from and to be honest, it's a tough call!
Will to Win is a former course and distance winner, his yard have a great record here and he's dropping in class to run off a very workable mark of 93. Conversely, he's not well drawn and isn't in any sort of form of late. Much will depend on which version of him turns up, very capable of making the frame at double digit odds, but others hold more appeal.
Top Breeze is 0 from 11 since winning here over 5f in a Class 2 contest at the end of February last year, but has shown some promising signs lately with five top-three finishes in his last seven races. He was 3.5 lengths behind Sun Power last time out, but with a 6lb pull in the weights here should be there or thereabouts. Aided by the rail, I expect him to go well just 1lb higher than that last win.
Total Commitment was one I initially liked and I still do, but stall 10 isn't going to do him any favours at all. He might have to go off a little quicker than usual to get involved, but if he can overcome the draw, he has plenty going for him, especially based on the Instant Expert numbers. He has raced more prominently recently when winning and then finishing as runner-up, so those tactics could help here.
Recon Mission broke a 13-race losing streak when winning here on New Year's Eve making all and holding on to win by three quarters of a length off a reduced mark of 84. He has obvious chances based on that form, but isn't a certainty to back it up. He's up in trip, class and weight here and the combination of the three might just prove too much. Definite chance, but I think others make more sense.
Sun Power was a winner at this class/trip at Wolverhampton at the end of last year, beating Top Breeze by 3.5 lengths in the process and therefore a repeat of that run puts him in the mix, but I have reservations. He's 2 from 3 at Wolverhampton, but 0 from 10 elsewhere and hasn't turned out to be the horse he was hoped to have been. Well beaten in seven Class 1&2 contests, he ended up at Class 4 to try and give him a spark. He's 6lbs worse off with Top Breeze here and that's possibly too much.
Five left in at this stage, Will To Win is unreliable and despite the possibility of a big run at a decent price, he's not for me today. Of the four remaining, any could win in fairness, but the way I've processed the race and analysed the runners, Top Breeze and Total Commitment appeal to me more than the other two.
Top Breeze is currently priced at 8/1 with Total Commitment half those odds at 4/1 and whilst I think Total Commitment will just shade it, he's not that much more likely to succeed in my eyes. I expected Top Breeze to be around 9/2, so 8/1 is excellent value and I was hoping for around 6/1 about Total Commitment, so 4's is a little skinny.
If I've got it right, there won't be much between them. TC is marginally better on my working, but TB is far better value. There's a case for backing either, none or both : the choice is yours! 😉