Nice result at Cartmel on Monday, where one of my three runners was a non-runner and the other two were the first two home at 10/1 and 4/1. As is often the case, I'd got them the wrong way around, but there was still profit from the picks, whilst the forecasts paid around 50/1!
Onto Tuesday, where the Shortlist report is the free feature of the day and the free races of the day are as follows...
- 2.55 Redcar
- 4.15 Leicester
- 4.25 Brighton
- 4.50 Leicester
- 5.05 Redcar
- 6.40 Tipperary
The best of those races is the first of the two at Leicester and although it's a small field with a likely short-priced favourite, it'll still be good to see if (a) the fav justifies the price and (b) whether there's an E/W bet or forecast angle to be had.
So, my focus now falls on the 4.15 Leicester, a 6-runner, Class 4 Flat Handicap for 3yo fillies over 7f on ground officially described as Good (Good To Firm In Places). The top prize is £4,347 and it will go to one of...
Form : All bar Wootton Creek have won at least one of their last five outings and she's the only one yet to race in a handicap so far. Divine Magic is the sole LTO winner in the field. Zwelela & Spirit of Bermuda have alreasdy won over 7f, whilst Divine Magic is a course and distance winner.
Class Moves : Red Fascinator and Cream of the Crop drop one class, Zwelela drops two classes and Divine Magic is up a grade.
Days since last run : All six have raced in the last five weeks, so no layoffs to deal with.
Trainer/Jockey Form : Red Fascinator is the only one without a positive course icon (C1 C5) for either trainer or jockey.
Ratings : The first five on the card are separated by just 7lbs by the assessor, whilst the SR figures are more strung out, favouring Spirit of Bermuda.
Red Fascinator carries top weight here and makes a second handicap start after finishing 7th of 11 at York last time out. She was beaten by just over 12 lengths and although she's now down in class and 2lbs better off, this still looks too tough for her.
Zwelela is 2 from 2 over seven furlongs this year, admittedly on the A/W at Lingfield at Class 5 and then at Wolverhampton at this grade off a mark 3lbs lower than today. She was well beaten (11.5 lengths) at Newmarket last time out having weakened considerably in the final furlong of eight. Down two classes and a furlong here, she's one to consider if transferring her A/W form to turf.
Spirit of Bermuda has ability, but also has some temperament issues as highlighted when she refused to race at Redcar last time out after getting agitated in the stalls, She'd also got restless in the stalls the time before and although she won a Class 2 maiden over 7f on debut, I'm not sure I trust her to behave here.
Divine Magic is the likely short-priced favourite and comes here off the back of a soft ground win here over course and distance last time out fifteen days ago in what was easily her best run to date. She won by three lengths that day, prompting a 6lb rise in weight which makes this task tougher for her, as does the step up in class, whilst the ground will be quicker this time. She's probably the one to beat, but I don't think she has too much in hand.
Wootton Creek makes a handicap debut here after four defeats in maidens, the best of which was when 2nd of 15 at Newmarket last September and her most recent run saw her beaten by five lengths at this class/trip on similar ground at Ayr five weeks ago. Mark Johnston's horses often improve in handicap company, but based on form, she's hard to back here.
Cream of the Crop is bottom weight here receiving 6lbs to 13lbs from her rivals. She won over 5f in early August on her second run and was deemed suitable for a run in the Gr2 Lowther Stakes at York 16 days later. She finished 13th of 14 there, beaten by 13 lengths. She has raced twice this year so far, losing by 5.25L and 3L, both over 6f and now has to step up in trip, although she has been eased a couple of pounds. If she sees the trip out, she could well get involved off such a low mark.
Instant Expert tells us that 3 of the six have won on similar ground to this race, but only Zwelela has a Class 4 win to her name. As I mentioned at the start, we've three previous 7f winners, including Divine Magic's C&D success last time out, for which she is now 6lbs higher...
...whereas in handicap company only...
Zwelela may well not have won on Gd/Gd to Fm, but her other numbers are good off albeit small sample sizes.
In terms of the draw, I've expanded the field requirements to 5 to 7 runners as follows...
And the way I'd look at this would be to take stalls 1-5 as read, but to combine 6 & 7 to treat stall 6 at 6 wins from 40 (15%) and 14 places from 40 (35%) for the purpose of a 6-runner race (ie anything higher than stall 5).
This means that stall 1 is easily the the most preferred place to be, but if you want to look at zonal draws, then the "top half" ie 4-6 is marginally better than stalls 1-3 for win (53/47 split) and place (52/48) purposes, although the fact that stall 1 is so strong, the advice here, I suppose, is to just avoid boxes 2 & 3! Which isn't great news for Cream of the Crop and/or Red Fascinator.
As for pace, these are the stats relating to the above races...
I'd be inclined to take the mid-division numbers with a pinch of salt, due to the very small amount of data. We can safely say that hold-up horses haven't done very well and that prominent horses have just about won as many as expected (IV is almost 1). but horses that lead fare best of those with any form of sample size.
So, the assumption from the above is that if the likes of Zwelela in stall 1 like to lead, they'd do very well here. To verify that claim, here's the Geegeez pace/draw heat map...
...which distinctly favours the low drawn leaders, which would be great news for Zwelela, if she's one who likes to get on with things. Our pace data for each horse tells us how they've run in their most recent outings and we allocate 4pts for leaders, 3 for prominent running, 2 for mid-division and 1 for being held-up. This is how the field score in their last three races...
Based on that information, it's likely that Zwelela may well try to set the pace from the rail draw with Wootton Creek providing the wider pace and when we superimpose this data onto that heat map and arrange the horses into draw order, we can almost get a bird's eye view of how we think they'll race...
...which would re-affirm my earlier assertion that Zwelela's desire to get on with it would be an advantage from stall 1. I don't read too much into the red blocks for mid-division runners as I explained earlier, but I do think Zwelela just about edges in on the heatmap.
Should Divine Magic be the favourite here? Yes, I'd probably say it's her race to lose. But I don't have her as nailed on as the 5/4 price she is in some places. I don't want to be backing her at that price, but she should win.
Of the rest, the biggest dangers look like Cream of the Crop and Zwelela to me and I prefer the latter of those two. Zwelela has the best draw, she'll look to get on with it and at 8/1 with Bet365 is just about long enough to justify an E/W bet. If she gets away sharp enough, she could well cause the fav some problems in overhauling her.