Racing Insights

Racing Insights, 17th June 2021

Taylored was collared and headed inside the final 100 yards today as the well backed Stronsay finally snapped a long losing run.

Thursday's 'feature of the day' is free access to the wonderful Instant Expert overview to ALL readers for ALL races, including, of course, our 'races of the day' aka...

  • 3.25 Ripon
  • 3.40 Ascot
  • 4.30 Chelmsford
  • 5.55 Leopardstown
  • 6.30 Leopardstown

I did consider tackling the Ribblesdale (3.40 Ascot), where I fancied the chances of Dubai Fountain at 11/1 to at least make the frame, but I'll leave that race for other colleagues to discuss, whilst I remain in my comfort zone with the 4.30 Chelmsford, an 8-runner, Class 4, 4yo+ A/W handicap over 1m2f on the Polytrack, where top prize is £4,347...

Here's the full card for the contest...

We've four with a win from their last five outings, although Mafia Power's results seem to be improving. War Leader is the sole LTO winner and he along with Top Class Angel (one of two fillies here, as is Punting) are the two stepping up a class. Top weight Al Muffrih comes down 2 rungs today and is a former winner at this trip, as is Mafia Power, War Leader and El Conquistador. Top Class Angel has yet to win at this trip, whilst Red October, Ritchie Valens and Punting are all course and distance winners.

Trainer Stuart Williams has 5 winners and 3 runners-up from his last 13 runners prior to Wednesday's racing, so he has the 14 icon for both top and bottom weighted horses, Hugo Palmer & Richard Hughes both have excellent strike rates at this track. Jockey-wise, we've two claimers, one of whom is struggling for form, as is Sean Levey, but Cieren Fallon and Ryan Tate are both going well, as is Pat Cosgrave who also has a good record here.

The handicapper rates stablemates Al Muffrih and El Conquistador as being 13lbs apart, but the latter heads our SR figures, a little way clear of four runners separated by just 5pts.

Al Muffrih drops down two classes to run in a Class 4 contest for the first time since winning over this trip at Newbury 37 months ago, but has only won 1 of 14 since and has been beaten in each of his last eleven since May 2019. He's now 6lbs lower than his last win, but has been well beaten in his last two and a 7th of 10, beaten by over 9 lengths LTO was poor prep for this. I'd look elsewhere!

Red October won here over course and distance at a higher grade almost 10 months ago, but hasn't made the frame in five runs since. He returned from 164 days off the track to run at this class/trip at Leicester at the start of the month, but was 5th of 8, seven lengths off the pace. He's 3lbs lower than his last win and is entitled to come on for the run, but I fear others might be better suited.

Ritchie Valens is 1 from 11 on the Flat and also 1 from 11 on the A/W, so there's some consistency of a sort there! His sole A/W win came at this track/trip/class just over a year ago off 1lb higher and when you consider a 5lb jockey claim, he's well weighted here today, however he hasn't made the frame in either of his last two runs, both off this mark and one with the 5lb claim. Improvement needed for me to want to back him.

Punting is 3 from 7 on the A/W and won here over track/trip/class off 2lbs lower on her last A/W outing just four weeks ago. She has since finished a creditable third over 2.5f further on softer than ideal ground at Chester and now back on more favourable conditions should be in the mix for a yard that is 11 from 31 (35.5% SR, A/E 1.95) in Class 3/4 handicaps here at Chelmsford up to 1m2f since the start of 2018.

Mafia Power has been improving and knocking on the door since returning from a 200-day absence to finish 5th at Wolverhampton in April. He has finished 432 since and only went down by three quarters of a length over further at Windsor last time out. He might well have just one win from thirteen, but I'd expect him to be involved here.

War Leader stayed on well to score at Yarmouth a month ago over this trip to finally break his duck after 13 defeats, many of them quite heavy. He took advantage of a career-low mark of 70 that day and is now up in class and up 5lbs and that's probably more than enough to anchor him again, as he's 0 from off marks of 72-76.

Top Class Angel won two of her last three starts in 2020, both class 5 handicaps over a mile, the first of which was here at Chelmsford. She was, however, beaten by almost 10 lengths at Class 4 between the two wins and hasn't kicked on this season, failing to make the frame in all three starts. She is back down to her last winning mark, but the step back up to Class 4 where she hasn't even placed in four attempts should be a step too far.

El Conquistador is having a great year in A/W handicaps, finishing 3113 in four efforts so far and beaten by less than a length behind Punting at class/course/trip last time out. He's now 2lbs better off for the rematch and another tight tussle is expected. Both wins came at this trip, but both were at Lingfield, he has yet to score here after three attempts.

Instant Expert...

From a general perspective, Ritchie Valens (going/class/trip), Mafia Power (class) and War Leader (class) look weak, although the middle horse of that trio, Mafia Power, is certainly improving with each recent run. Red October is interestingly lower than his last winning mark, but El Conquistador still carries half a stone more than his last success, even if he is bottom weight here.

To ensure we're not leaning too much on novice/maiden form on the Flat etc, we should really consider those records above when translated into A/W handicap form...

...where Al Muffrih & Ritchie Valens are poor on the going figures and the latter has failed several times at Class 4, this track and the 10f trip. Safe to say, I'm not keep on RV right now. Punting brings the only line of green, whilst Red October, Top Class Angel and El Conqusitador all have a couple of greens, albeit off small sample sizes. Mafia Power & War Leader are largely untried under these conditions.

Draw Stats...

After looking at the data from last 51 similar contests, my initial reaction is that you need to get away from the rail, as stalls 1 and 2 haven't won anywhere near their fair share of races. They do OK on the place figures, but if pushed for a "draw zone" comment,  I'd say avoid 1 & 2 and try for 4 to 6. This is good for followers of El Conquistador, Top Class Angel and Ritchie Valens, but not so much for War Leader and/or Al Muffrih...

...that said, it's really no good getting a great draw if you don't make full se of it and 10 furlongs is a fair way to go, so race positioning becomes keys, as we'll now see in...

Pace Stats...

Where, quite simply, the further forward you race, the better the chance you're going to have.

And we can look back at our runners' last four outings to see how they tend to run and it's quite interesting...

Red October looks to be the pace in the race and drawn 7 of 8, he's well away from the low draws, meaning he could well open up a decent lead. We can tell if this would be a viable tactic by combining the 3 draw sectors with the 4 running styles to create a 12-block matrix that we call the...

Pace/Draw Heat Map...

...which for this race looks like this

It was pretty obvious that it was going to favour the centrally drawn runners who like to get on with it, whilst the low drawn hold up horses have really suffered. We can now overlay our eight horses onto this heatmap based on their actual draw here and their past running styles and if they run like they normally run then the positioning looks like this...

There's not a great deal of pace in the contest, but Red October's best chance is going to be to get out as quickly as he can and hold on for as long as he can. I've a feeling that Punting might well go with him, as to ally those old "you can't win from wide" fears that go about the sport.

Summary

From everything I documented before that last heat map graphic, my three against the field were to be (alphabetically) El Conquistador, Mafia Power and Punting, but I think I'm going to leave red October in with that trio for a moment whilst I look back. He's certainly entitled to come for having had a run recently and I think he's better than 5th of 8, beaten by seven lengths, but does he win here?

Probably not, although I think he gets very close and could well be in the frame.

So who wins? For me, Punting. I think she'll race a bit more prominently and will catch Red October and I also think she has enough to hold off El Conquistador who might well end up too far back to catch Red October. So, I suppose this means I'm now discarding Mafia Power

To be honest, all four could end up in a tight finish, but if I had to nail my colours to the mast, it'd be Punting / Red October / El Conquistador / Mafia Power, but tight!

Punting is currently 7/1 which looks generous, so I'll take some of that and you can get the same at bet365 about Red October, interesting for the hedgers amongst you, but not long enough to go E/W for me. The overlooked Mafia Power is the 7/2 fav here, so I might end up with egg on my face.

 

Please Note, I'm out on family business all day Thursday, so my piece for Friday's racing won't appear until later than usual, but it will appear!

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