Well, Monday's race didn't exactly go to plan, I liked the favourite and was struggling to separate two others as my Plan B horse. The favourite was well backed giving us some value on the price taken but was turned over by the 11/1 shot that I discarded last of all, whilst my Plan B horse came home fourth. The bright side is that my final three contained the first two home (well done to those on the £27.40 Exacta), but my position was a loss on the 2/1 win bet.
Tuesday's free feature is the Shortlist report, whilst the free races are as follows...
- 12.20 Lingfield
- 1.00 Southwell
- 1.10 Limerick
- 2.32 Southwell
- 3.40 Newcastle
Things haven't quite gone my way over the last few days, but the best thing to do after falling off a bike is to get back on and try again, so although the Shortlist report is an excellent feature, I'm going to attempt to profile another race, which incidentally contains a Shortlist-featured runner, namely...
and so, it will come as no surprise to see me take on the 2.32 Southwell, a 12-runner, Class 4, handicap hurdle for 4yo+ over 3m on good to soft ground with the winner receiving £3,769 for his (all 12 are geldings) owners. We start, as ever with the racecard and I've ordered it by Geegeez Ratings...
So, 12 to go at with a view to finding a shortlist that will hopefully provide with a value proposition. My immediate action is remind you of something Matt alluded to in his recent video series that suggested horses at 20/1 and bigger were that kind of price for a reason. And he's right, of course, which leads me to instantly remove both Motueka & Putting Green from my considerations before I go through the various elements of the card.
There's a distinct lack of decent form on offer here, but Laugharne, Fontley House, Heavey, Ridgeway Flyer and Peachey have all been there or thereabouts this season already, whilst flags are raised about Connetable and Danboru from a form perspective, particularly the latter as he returns from more than a year off the track .
We've no last time out winners, so it's unsurprising to see half of our ten under consideration take a drop in class to run here. Fontley House, Heavey and Ridgway Flyer all drop down from Class 3, whilst Laugharne and Poppa Poutine both drop two grades from Class 2 with the other five runners having ran at this Class 4 level last time out.
Fontley House, Fortunate George, Brummie Boys, Peachey and Poppa Poutine all represent yards with good records at this track (C1 and/or C5), whilst Tim Vaughan who trains both Danboru and Laugharne has only had one winner from his last sixty runners. From a jockey perspective, Fontley House, Heavey, Peachey and Poppa Poutine will be ridden by jockeys known to do well here, whilst once again Danboru and Laugharne are negatives.
And the final piece of data to take from the cards for now are the Geegeez ratings themselves, where Laugharne, Fontley House and Heavey lead the way with Poppa Poutine, Danboru & Peachey faring worst.
Baring all the above in mind, I'm now going to discard Connetable and Danboru before I click the Instant Expert tab...
...where from a place or E/W perspective Ridgeway Flyer & Laugharne jump out with four blocks of green each. No surprise to see Ridgway Flyer featured, as he's the horse from the Shortlist report. In addition to that pair, Fortunate George goes well at Class 4, Fontley House clearly gets three miles and Heavey looks proven at both class and trip, but how do those placing convert into wins? Let's see...
...where it's all about the Shortlist horse, Ridgeway Flyer, who in addition to his excellent numbers above, will run off a mark some 10lbs lower than his last win over hurdles and some 17lbs lower than his last chasing win, although I should point out that those wins were over three years ago,as he has only recently returned to action from a 20-month layoff!
Our final graphic will hope fully show us how the race might unfold...
We're told that from 13 races under similar conditions to ours that hold-up horses have won 7 (53.8%) and have taken 15 (40.5%) of the 37 places on offer, suggesting that Peachey and Heavey have the tactics best suited to this race.
I have, so far, not managed to get my 12-runner field down to a workable level but I will discard two more now ahead of a closer look at each of the ones left standing. Laugharne has ability and is a consistent sort, but I think he'll end up leading which will make him vulnerable in the closing stages, so he's our for me. next to go is Brummie Boys, I've no real negatives about him other than his inexperience and having never gone beyond 2m4f, he just doesn't tick enough boxes for me.
And that leaves me with a still unsatisfactory six runners to consider...
Fontley House won't have any issues getting the trip, but doesn't win often enough. He was third of seven last time out and although he drops in class to run here today, he's still a pound higher than his only previous win in 11 starts. His yard used to do well in hurdles contests here at Southwell, but are only 3 from 20 here since the start of 2018.
Fortunate George has flown under the radar a little in my analysis above, but stands a good chance of at least making the frame here. He likes some cut in the ground, has won at 3m2f so stamina is fine and has won at Classes 2, 3 and 4 in the past. He's 10 yrs old now and clearly not the horse placed second in a grade 3 contest back in 2017, but he's game and nobody's fool. He won as recently as February over 3m2f and now back to just a pound higher is a contender for at least a place.
Heavey was unlucky earlier this autumn in back to back runs when sliding on landing 2 out when travelling really well at Fontwell before going down by just a head 10 days later at Perth. He was below par at Cheltenham last time out, but steps back up in trip and down in class and we should see him in a better light today.
Peachey is difficult to assess on handicap debut really, just one bumper run and then three efforts over hurdles. Beaten by just over two lengths on hurdles debut at two miles more than two years ago, returned to action 45 days ago after 693 days off the track but was hampered and fell at the first, before being quickly turned back out 13 days later when a creditable 2nd of 10 at Uttoxeter over 2m4.5f on soft ground a month ago.
Two narrow-ish defeats says he has ability, but he's upped in trip here and hardly thrown in off a mark of 116, but has a shrewd trainer and jockey behind him.
Poppa Poutine wasn't ruled out yet, but isn't ruled in, if that makes any sense. Just two runs to date : third of eight in this grade but over a mile shorter than today and then moved up to 3m0.5f and Class 2 for a 28 lengths defeat. And I don't think there's much more to say other than his yard are well known for throwing one into a handicap with no relevant form and emerging with the money.
Ridgeway Flyer is the one whose supposed suitability for the task ahead has been discussed the most here. He's on the Shortlist report and ticks lots of boxes, but the caveat is that he hasn't won a race for three years and is no longer trained by Paul Nicholls. His new handlers don't have many runners/winners and this one will need to improve upon his run last time out, but the step up in trip should help.
I was hoping for and easy-to-read contest to get me back on track, but this race is actually far more competitive than I thought it was going to be. Not because there are too many decent horses here. It's quite the opposite, I fear. It's a poor looking contest for poor well-tried horses against relative newcomers. No decent form amongst the lot of them and there's very little to separate them in my opinion.
I'd fully expect the first three home to come from the six runners above, but I won't be having a proper bet here. I'll be having one of what Matt calls an "action bet" ie something to make watching the race slightly more interesting and that'll probably be a small E/W flutter on Fortunate George at 12/1 or bigger.