Racing Insights

Racing Insights, 16th March 2021

A poor start to the week for this column, I'm afraid with only my second pick making the frame at Stratford, so I'll move quickly on to Tuesday, where 'feature of the day' is the informative Shortlist report, which highlights Tuesday's runners proven under the conditions they're due to face and our 'races of the day' are as follows...

  • 1.00 Southwell
  • 1.55 Cheltenham
  • 2.45 Southwell
  • 8.15 Newcastle

And the last of our races might only be a Class 6, 5f sprint on the Tapeta, but it's the most open of the four and these races are bread and butter to many of you. A nice light supper after the feast of Cheltenham, perhaps?

So, here's how they line up for 8.15 Newcastle...

And from the card, the first things that strike me are...

FORM :
Pro : Outcast, For Peat's Sake, Marta Boy
Con : Mokaman, Elland Road Boy, Hope Probe, The Queens Ladies

CLASS :
The top four in the weights, plus Suntory Star are all dropping down in class here

COURSE/DISTANCE RECORD :
Pro : Marta Boy is a course and distance winner and 5 others have won over this trip
Con : Tantastic, For Peat's Sake, Hope Probe and Suntory Star are yet to score over five furlongs.

LAST RAN :
Pro : Outcast, Elland Road Boy, For Peat's Sake, Marta Boy, Hope Probe and The Queens Ladies have all raced in the last 6 to 22 days with the last four seen in the past 6-11 days.
Con : Tantastic, Mokaman, West Way Never & Suntory Star return from breaks of 160, 91, 133 and a whopping 228 days respectively

TRAINER FORM :
Pro : West Way Never, Outcast & Marta Boy
Con : Suntory Star

JOCKEY FORM :
Pro : Tantastic, Outcast, Elland Road Boy, For Peat's Sake & Marta Boy

GEEGEEZ RATINGS :
Pro : Marta Boy, For Peat's Sake, Mokaman
Con : The Queens Ladies, Tantastic, West Way Never

RACE SUITABILITY :

We're dealing with low-grade, low-mileage three year olds here who have only made the frame 11 times from 62 combined starts ( 17.74%), going on to win just 6 times (9.68% SR), so I thought it best to just assess them on their handicap place records.

No real standouts, but Marta Boy has no red and couple of others do at least have some green ie Elland Road Boy and For Peat's Sake. Outcast makes a handicap debut after winning last time out.

DRAW STATS :

I prefer to look at stall groupings of two or preferably three adjacent stalls to even out the potential of an anomalous stall showing more runners than expected and based on this (where stall 2 has 6 wins round it 1+3+2 etc), there's a definite tendency for the central stalls to fare best.

RUNNING STYLE (i) :

And from the same 27 races analysed in the above draw stats, we see that leaders and hold-up horses have gone far better than par. By definition, you get fewer leaders than prominent runners, but those that lead have tended to hold on for a place more often than other styles. They win almost 1.5 times as often as expected and I suppose the simple take away here is that if you can't lead, bide your time.

DRAW & RUNNING STYLE :

So we've an idea of where we want to be drawn (middle-ish?) and we know how we want to run (lead or be held-up), so would it be as simple as combining the two?

It would appear so! Mid-drawn leaders are marginally preferred to mid-drawn hold up horses with the best chances elsewhere falling to Led/High, Low/Prom, Mid/Prom.

RUNNING STYLE (ii)

Now that we know where we want to be drawn and how we want to run, we turn back to the actual runners. We already have the draw (on the racecard, on Instant Expert and on the pace tab), we just need to know how the horses are going to run. And that's the potential fly in the ointment, as we don't know how they're going to run, but we believe past performances are often repeated, so let's consider recent running styles of our ten, where 4 = led and 1 = held up...

...and as Sod's law would have it, there's no obvious front runner there, although The Queens Ladies did lead two starts ago before running out of steam and For Peat's Sake also led two starts ago, when beaten by less than a length over 6 furlongs : perhaps he'll take it on here.

Suntory Star aside, the whole field has an average pace score of 2.33 to 3.00, so it could end up being a shootout or a cagey affair with a 1f dash to the line.

We can (and will!) superimpose the horses' running style onto the Pace/Draw heat map for one final clue as to how the race might pan out...

Sadly, that's also fairly inconclusive and I'm happy to ignore how good Suntory Star looks there, as he's got his work cut out ion all the other areas we've assessed.

Summary

The inconclusiveness (real word?) of the pace/draw heat map is actually a good thing, as it reminds us that a stat taken in isolation can be misleading and/or unreliable, but based on all the other evidence I've collated and documented above, I've whittled it down to four in my head.

And those four, in alphabetical order are...Elland Road Boy, For Peat's Sake, Marta Boy and Outkast.

Of the four, the one I like most is Marta Boy who has improved race by race since moving to David Evans' yard, finishing 531, having scored over C&D here 11 days ago and is now just 2lbs higher. I don't have much separating the other three, if truth be told, but if pushed to make a decision, I'd probably go Outcast, For Peat's Sake then Elland Road Boy.

The market at 5.40pm has my front four at 10/3, 11/4, 5/1 and 10/1. It's reassuring to know the market agrees with me, but I can't help being a touch disappointed not to have found a nugget, so to speak. That said, at 10/1, Elland Road Boy might well be an interesting E/W prospect here.

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