Saturday's race went pretty much as I expected and we were only denied identifying the winner by a head, but that's history now, so we need to look forward to Monday, where our free feature is the pace tab for all races and our free racecards are for...
- 1.30 Windsor
- 2.50 Pontefract
- 3.35 Gowran Park
- 5.00 Wolverhampton
- 7.00 Wolverhampton
I'm not a fan of going in relatively blind in maiden and/or novice auction contests, so that rules out Windsor, Gowran Park and the later Wolverhampton card and I'm going to focus on the 2.50 Pontefract, a competitive-looking Class 4 Handicap for 3yo+ over 1m2f on Soft ground with a £5.5k prize for the winner...
We start, as ever with the racecard...
...which gives us a supposed pecking order in terms of the Speed ratings and also tells us that Awake My Soul & Gold Souk come from yards with good records here at Pontefract (C5), whilst Ian Williams, trainer of Idilco has found winners hard to find of late (14).
One additional stat I would mention that jockey Ben Curtis & trainer Roger Fell are 5 from 18 (27.8% SR) when teaming up in handicaps here at Ponty over the last three seasons giving Cockalorum a positive.
Jockey-wise, Cockalorum, Gold Souk, Cruyff Turn and Viceregent are positives with their jockeys having ridden well here in the past (C1 and/or C5), whilst James Sullivan aboard Awake My Soul looks out of form and hasn't done too well here previously either.
If we then look at the Instant Expert tab, the win figures don't actually tell us too much...
...but the place returns are a better indication of potential...
...where Bendalid would be of serious interest had he performed better on soft ground. Cockalorum and Awake My Soul have done well enough on soft ground, at Class 4 and at 1m2f, whilst the other "greens" are from pretty small sample sizes.
Monday is free pace tab day, so it would be remiss of me of not to take a look at that here to see if we get any pointers...
I switched the order to show how we think they might run based on previous efforts and it they run how we think, then Gold Souk looks well positioned provided he doesn't go off to quickly, whilst Bendalid might just need to push on a bit more than usual, as would Cruyff Turn.
Racecard data and tabs aside, what else do we know about these seven?
Cockalorum : Fifteen months and fourteen races have passed since he last won, but that was also another Class 4 soft ground handicap and he showed signs of a return to form last time out in a similar contest to todays.
He got going a bit late but was staying on well and a similar effort could put him in the mix here, as he has certainly shown that conditions will suit.
Bendalid : A six-time winner from trips ranging from 6 to 12 furlongs, but I believe he is best suited to 10/10.5f, so should be happy here and in fact only went down by a neck over course and distance two starts ago with both the winner and third placed horse having since gone very close at a higher level.
All that aside, he continues to creep up the weights and a lack of soft ground success is a concern.
Awake My Soul : Ticks a lot of boxes from an E/W perspective on Instant Expert, but at 11 yrs old with no win in 13 races over two years, it'd be hard to convincingly believe this could be the day. However, he was third in this race last season off a pound higher and wasn't disgraced as a runner-up last time out.
Gold Souk : Looks badly out of form which must be a worry for connections. He finished his 2yo season in fine form with results of 122 and not beaten by more than a length in either defeat, but this season has been a nightmare for him, beating just one rival across four races at a total combined losing distance of over 73 lengths. One to avoid.
Cruyff Turn : Hard to fully assess him on the basis of his five race career so far. He acquired a mark of 72 after three nondescript runs over glaringly inadequately (IMO) short trips, before setting off on a handicap campaign. A win was followed by a step up in trip to a mile last time out, where he was beaten by a couple of lengths staying on well.
Breeding (on his dam's side) suggests he still needs further than that mile, he's in good form in this grade and is fancied to go well again. The caveat? He is unproven on soft ground, but his yard are 6 from 30 (20% SR) over 9/10f on soft ground these last two seasons.
Idilco : Best (?) known as a hurdler who probably peaked when winning on debut two years ago. Just two non-NH runs to date finishing 12th of 12 beaten by 18 lengths over this trip at Newbury and then an improvement of sorts on the A/W at Kempton when 11th of 12 and "only" 16.5 lengths off the winner. A similar fate beckons : one to avoid.
Viceregent : Some decent efforts in a 7-week spell from mid-July to finish 231 on Good to Soft and Soft ground over 10.5/11 furlongs, but was well beaten by 12 lengths last time out, four weeks ago.
Now steps up a class and is 3lbs higher than his win, he's still of interest because stamina won't be an issue trip-wise and he does handle soft ground.
As expected, a competitive race. I really don't like Gold Souk and Idilco for this one, but that does still leave five in the mix. I can't bring myself to believe Awake My Soul will suddenly win and I'd be leaving Cruyff Turn out based on a lack of experience at trip and/or going. That's not to say he can't/won't win, but I can't back him. All of which leaves me with three.
Bendalid hasn't handled soft ground well enough for my liking and looks too high in the weights, Viceregent tends to find at least one too good for him and the step up in class could undo him, which leaves me with Cockalorum, almost by default.
I won't be having a bet here, because I'd probably want at least 4/1 about Cockalorum, but if we're disregarding odds, then he's the one that interests me the most.