Count Otto abandoned his usual/expected tactics and ran his best race for some time, meaning my favoured runner Total Commitment was an 11/4 (from 4/1) runner-up at Lingfield on Saturday, I'm afraid.
Ah, well, Monday heralds a new week and a new challenge/opportunity. To assist us, we offer the pace tab for ALL races to ALL users, as well as full free racecards for the following...
- 12.15 Lingfield
- 12.55 Ayr
- 4.05 Ayr
- 6.40 Wolverhampton
Lingfield is an A/W bumpers meeting (say no more), the two Ayr races are a novice hurdle and a bumper, so by process of elimination I'm going to focus my efforts on the 6.40 Wolverhampton, an 8-runner (hopefully it says that way for E/W bettors), Class 3, A/W (Tapeta) handicap for 4yo+ runners, who all just happen to be geldings today. The trip is officially 1m1.5f, the top prize is £7,246 and the card looks like this...
Teston's UK record stands at 1 win and 1 place from 3 runs so far and now steps up in trip after finishing as runner up at Southwell over 7 furlongs last time out. That was his first run on the A/W in this country, but had a win and four places from 8 A/W runs over 9/9.5 furlongs in France. He also won three races over a mile on turf across the Channel before scoring on his UK debut at Doncaster over a mile in this grade last June. Bears top weight off a mark of 97, a mark unaltered from his last outing and if adapting to the Tapeta has every chance of being in the final mix.
Power of States is bang in form, albeit all at Chelmsford where all six of his career A/W runs have taken place. He has finished 121113 in those six, a stark contrast to his 0 from 11 on turf. He's three from five over 1m2f at Chelmsford, so the trip itself is well within him and his usual visor and tongue tie will be worn here. He was only third last time out off a mark of 89, so going off 90 here doesn't do him any favours and he's stepping up in class. That said, his yard are 36 from 153 (23.5% SR) here on the Tapeta with horses tackling it for the first time winning 27 of 113 (23.9% SR). Those are positive numbers, which leave me wondering why only 40 have run here more than once, but that's for another day, I suppose!
Home Before Dusk was fifth off a mark of 91 at Class 2 last time out and is eased a pound as he drops down to Class 3, so that should help him as he attempts to improve upon his own record of 5 wins and 3 places from 13 in Tapeta handicaps, including 5 wins, 2 places from 10 over 8-10f, 2 wins and a place from 5 under today's jockey and a win from two goes over this course and distance. I wouldn't rule him out totally based on those numbers, but the reality is that he hasn't run well in any of his seven defeats over the last eleven months since winning at Kempton off a mark of 92. This is within his capabilities on history, but form suggests others will make more appeal.
Mythical Madness finished 121 in his last three races, but all were on turf at Class 4 over a mile in a twelve day period seven months ago. The 10 yr old hasn't been seen since then and is likely to need a run before being seen at whatever his best is nowadays. History suggests he's better on the Flat (6/31 = 19.4%) where he wins more than twice as often as he does on the A/W (4/43 = 9.3%), but he is 3 from 16 (18.75%) here at Wolverhampton over 8.5-9.5f. Sadly his last decent run here came a month shy of four years ago, when beaten by a neck off a mark of 101. In his favour, though, is a mark of 87 today and the fact he was in good nick before his rest. If ready to go first up, he's well weighted and capable here, but I can't see it happening on the basis of history, especially stepping up in class.
Ledham is a really interesting 6 yr old and one to probably watch here with a view to possibly backing next time out. Fourth of eight on debut in August 2017, then put back in his box for 282 days before finishing 2nd of 16 in mid-May 2018. He ran four more times that season, winning a class 5, finishing as runner-up then as a winner in two Class 3 contests, before a third of ten at Class 2 in October 2018. Another long (193 days) layoff followed and then he re-appeared to finish as a runner-up in a ten-runner C2 handicap at Haydock over a mile on soft ground in late April 2019. He hasn't been seen since and now returns some 632 days later. He has won on this track before, he's down in class, down 3lbs in the ratings, was gelded back in November and moved yards last week. If he can get 1m on soft at Haydock, he should get this trip and he clearly has gone well fresh in the past, but you'd need some bravery to back him here, wouldn't you?
Kaser comes here armed to the teeth with a volume of stats to suggest he'll go well, as follows (easier to copy and paste than type!)...
...chuck in his trainer's record of 11 wins from 54 (20.4% SR, A/E 1.59) in course and distance handicaps since the start of 2018 and you've certainly got something worth a second glance. Kaser, himself, is 4 from 11 over course and distance which skews the stats slightly and hasn't ran particularly well here in his two C&D efforts this winter. He was 11th of 13 and in rear throughout at this grade in mid-November and then a similar run as 9th of 10 last time out. He was ridden by two claimers in those races and recent rider Laura Pearson has been replaced by Rossa Ryan. Laura now rides Avarice here and Kaser is now effectively 5lbs worse off for that defeat, due to the jockey claim. Rossa Ryan is in good form, of course and rides this track well, but a minor place has to be the best he can hope for here.
The afore-mentioned Avarice is probably left well alone here to be brutally honest. No previous run in the UK, no previous run on an artificial surface and probably needs a stiffer test. He's not a poor horse as a run of results reading 2212 after his debut will testify. Admittedly beaten by eight lengths last time out, but that was over 1m4f on soft ground on a contest worth over £20k. He gets 1m2f on soft well enough, so even if adapting to Tapeta first up, I think this'll be too sharp for him.
Athmad makes up our octet and he's well proven at this track having finished 1141331 here over 8.5-9.5f, including 1331 over course and distance, the last of those runs being his last run overall when prevailing by a length here a fortnight ago. But he's up 4lbs and up in class for that win and has never won any race better than a low-prize (ie sub-£6k) Class 4 contest, failing to even make the frame in eight such contests. That said, all runs have to come to an end and having seen the opposition, he has every chance of being in the shake-up here. His yard is in good form too and he's definitely worth considering at this stage.
We know already that a couple of these should be suited by conditions, but the easiest way of checking all runners at once is via our unique traffic-light colour (green = good, amber = moderate, red= not so good) coded Instant Expert (click the tab on the racecard)...
...where only Mythical Madness looks to be struggling. Power of States is up 6lb from his last win, but is in prime form and the stats behind the returning Ledham and course specialist Athmad are clearly laid out.
In similar previous contests to this one, we get the impression that the higher the sector of the draw the better, as seen below...
...and stalls 5 to 8 have certainly outperformed those in stalls 1-4 winning 55% of the races...
History also tells us that the three best pace/draw combinations are highly drawn leaders, highly drawn prominent runners and then prominent/mid-division runs from a low draw, which I suppose makes sense as the low draw would just tuck in as the higher drawn pace setters come across...
We can then overlay the past running styles of our eight runners to see how the race might unfold as follows...
...where Teston looks particularly well suited, whilst Athmad is also in a good place. The in-form Power of States is likely to race a bit further forward, I'd have thought, as he won't want the race to be "nicked" at the front by the front-running Teston. Should he step up, that would be a shrewd move in my opinion, but even if they just actually break in that order above, he's mid-division anyway!
The two most inconvenienced by the draw/running-style combo are the the two drawn widest and that doesn't bode well for Kaser's efforts to maintain his form at this venue.
Lots with chances or reasons to at least be positive about their chances. Power of States will be popular and I expect him to go off as favourite, probably in the 5/2 type of odds and whilst he has every chance here and should definitely make the frame, the one I like more is Teston. His French form, allied to his Instant Expert showing and the pace/draw positioning make him the one to beat for me. I don't think I'll get the 4/1 or better that I was hoping for, but he's the one I fancy most here.
Elsewhere, Athmad should go well and could threaten the two I've mentioned in this summary. Kaser would be of interest from an E/W perspective, but 8/1 is too short. Home Before Dusk, Mythical Madness and Avarice hold little appeal to me and if I wanted a small E/W punt at a decent price, Ledham would be the one at 20's or bigger not withstanding he'll probably need the run and come up short this time.