Wednesday's race ended up a four-runner affair that lacked any real pace after Stainsby Girl And Cash Again were both withdrawn with the eventual 11/10 favourite Bavington Bob winning a tight tactical affair.
Thursday marks the start of the new month and hopefully Geegeez readers will be no fools after using the free feature of the day, which is access to Instant Expert for ALL races, including our 'races of the day' which are set to be...
- 1.45 Wetherby
- 3.50 Wetherby
- 4.45 Uttoxeter
- 4.50 Chelmsford
- 5.00 Clonmel
And it's off to Wetherby we go for the second of those races listed above. The 3.50 Wetherby is an 8-runner, Class 4, handicap chase over 3m1.5f on good ground and they line up as follows...
My initial expectation is that with Sigurd clearly being the form horse here, he'll be very popular and a fairly warm favourite. The rest of the field look pretty well matched, so my aim is to (a) see if Sigurd is a worthy favourite and (b) hopefully identify one at a reasonable price to make the frame.
Bafana Blue won five times and finished a runner-up once in a run of seven chases from mid-April to mid-November in 2019 and although a runner-up on his reappearance in September 2020, hasn't looked the same horse since and although he's on a mark lower than both of his last two wins, I'd be looking elsewhere for a winner today.
Billy Bronco looks a forlorn hope on his recent form line that is littered with P's, but most of his running of late has been at a higher grade, over a longer trip or both. His best recent run was at Hereford two starts ago, when dropped back down to todays trip/class where he was a runner-up on soft ground. He's not the most reliable, of course, but a similar run to two starts ago puts him in the mix in this modest-looking field and he does head the Geegeez ratings.
What A Moment is another who ran well two starts ago, but struggled last time out. He was only touched off by a short head at Plumpton at the start of last mont, but was poor at Kempton 12 days ago, finishing last of five. A bit like the horse above, it will depend which version turns out here, if it's the Plumpton run then he has every chance of being involved, if it's the run from Kempton LTO, he might as well stay home.
Station Master has ability but his temperament is questionable. he does have a tendency to fold if things aren't going his way and also sometimes when they are! He didn't seem interested when pulled on his last run in November 2019 and then his first run of 2020, being pulled up on both occasions. He was then third at Southwell before going down by just nine lengths at Class 3, before heading to Carlisle for another Class 3 contest in October. he was a clear second approaching the last and refused to jump it and on his only run since, was beaten by 59 lengths back at this grade. Not one for the faint hearted to back.
Elixir du Gouet was a handy hurdler/chaser in France winning three times and finishing as runner-up once in seven starts, but hasn't hit those heights at all in the UK, where he has made the frame just once in five races. He was pulled up on his Uk debut and has since been beaten by 34L, 23L, 51L and then by 124L LTO. That was back in December, he has only raced twice in the last two years and hasn't raced beyond 2m4.5f. He has weakened quickly in his last couple and I don't see him staying this trip.
Top Up The Fashion was a creditable second at Fakenham two starts ago, not helped by a loose horse causing him issues 3 from home over this trip. I'm not suggesting that caused him to lose by 12 lengths but he was going well and would probably have been closer at the finish but for being hampered. That was back in mid-November and then he didn't run again for over 15 weeks before re-appearing at Doncaster almost four weeks ago. He looked like he needed the run that day and was eventually pulled up before 4 out in first time blinkers. The blinkers are back on and it is hoped he comes on for having had the run.
Sigurd will no doubt be the main attraction here, having won three of his last five, but it should be pointed out that he failed to complete the other two races and that prior to this purple patch he had won just 2 of his 40 career starts. Add in the fact that he's 9lbs higher for winning here off 100 over C&D 24 days ago and was pulled up off 102 twice already this season. In fact he's won just one of sixteen off a mark higher than 100 so far and now steps up in class.
Lough Salt completes the line-up and receives plenty of weight all round, but he'll need it! 0 from 16 so far over fences and winless in his last 30 races overall since landing a 3m Class 3 hurdle here in mid-October 2017. Has made the frame in three of his last six, though, but failed to complete the other three. Now on a career-low mark, he's as likely to make the frame as he is to finish nowhere, such is his unreliability.
Well, I had to second-check the racecard after those write-ups to see if it really was a Class 4 contest, as it's got low-level Class 5 written all over it and shouldn't take a lot of winning. Unfortunately, this bunch aren't known as winners with a combined strike rate of just 12.6% (25 from 198) and a place record of 31.8% (63/198), but Instant Expert will tell us if their past wins are relevant in this contest..
...and it doesn't tell us too much, but I was surprised at Bafana Blue's consistency, although his data would have looked much better a year ago. Sigurd doesn't look a warm favourite on that data above either. Racing off a career-high mark at a higher level than he's been successful at previously might prove difficult here.
We don't have an abundance of pace data for similar contests here at Wetherby, but I can tell that those who want to lead and those who want to hang back tend to struggle with those racing just behind the pace or in mid-division faring best. What we do have. however, is how these horses have raced in the past and based on their last four runs, we expect they'll run as follows...
What I think might well happen here is that Station Master and Top Up The fashion will attempt to set the pace and take each other on, leaving the door open for the likes of Billy Bronco and Sigurd to overhaul them later on. Once passed, neither seem to have the resilience to hold on for a place and will probably both be susceptible to others coming from further back as the pack closes in.
I think, as I said above that Billy Bronco & Sigurd will overhaul the leaders and I think it's between this pair as to who wins. On my figures/reckoning, Sigurd is the better horse and probably just about shades it, but I've already stated my reservations about him. He'll probably go on to win, but is he a 2/1 horse here? I'm not sure.
Billy Bronco looks good for a place, though and at 11/2 would be a nice price if he could beat the fav and as for one from the pack to finish third, I think I like What A Moment most for that role, if he's in the mood for it. The booking of Tom Scudamore is a positive there and they're currently 5/1.