Racing Insights

Racing Insights, 21st December 2021

Tuesday's free feature is The Shortlist, a simple and usually brief report highlighting those horses with a largely ‘green’ profile in the Instant Expert Report each day. It covers win or place stats, and can be viewed for both today’s and tomorrow’s racing.

GREENis good (33% or better win rate) – worth 3 points
AMBER is quite good (16-32% win rate) – worth 1 point
RED is not so good (0-15% win rate) – worth -1 points
GREY means there is no available data for that factor - worth 0 points

The final column, ‘Score’, is the sum of the previous five ‘colour’ columns, with 15 being an all green profile, and 9 being the lowest score appearing on this report.

HINT: The best bets are not necessarily the highest scores. Rather, they are often the biggest difference between a Shortlist horse and the ‘best of the rest’ in that race.

N.B. Shortlist selections are unlikely to make a profit, at SP at least, to blind backing. Our recommendation is – and has always been – that The Shortlist should be a starting point rather than an end in itself. That said, it continues to highlight horses whose chance is better than recent form - and its odds - imply.

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This is Tuesday's Shortlist...

...and we complement that offering with the following free races...

  • 12.30 Ayr
  • 2.25 Newcastle
  • 5.00 Newcastle

Racing is generally pretty poor at this time of year, but despite being a small-field, low grade affair, the middle of those three 'free' races does at least look a competitive one, so let's take aim at the 2.25 Newcastle, a 6-runner, Class 5, 3yo+ A/W Handicap over a left-handed 1m4½f on Standard To Slow Tapeta, which is worth £3,240 to one of the following...

Lopes Dancer comes here after winning two of his last five starts and now drops in class after finishing 6th of 8 (beaten by 17 lengths) at Wolverhampton 26 days ago. He has also been eased 2lbs by the assessor ahead of a return to a venue where he has won 4 times and placed 4 times from 13 efforts over course and distance. Newcastle is certainly his favourite track, this is his preferred distance and he's a confirmed Class 5 runner. His jockey is in great form right now, but the horse's recent form is a worry.

Major Snugfit is another former course and distance winner and he has been in tremendous form over the last five months, winning five times and being a runner-up three times from ten outings, but it has to be pointed out that his overall record at this venue isn't good at just 1 win and 1 further places from 11 visits. Stat-wise, in his favour, the trip is ideal for him, he gerts on with his jockey well, 8-30 days since his last run is his optimum, as are the visor and the tongue tie, but his best form is at class 6 and generally away from Newcastle. That said, his yard & rider are both in decent form and the yard does well in staying contests.

Raiff opened his account in the final of three bumpers, after two pretty poor earlier events. Since then he's not managed to make the frame in five efforts on the A/W, although he was only beaten by just over half a length in a 1m2f handicap at this track 18 days ago. He goes again off the same mark and results/form suggest he'll need to improve to win this. In his favour, though, he does drop in class here and his jockey has been riding well enough of late.

Can Can Girl is one of two fillies (both 3yo's) getting a 4lb weight allowance allowing her to effectively run off a mark of 63, which is a bonus to another former course and distance winner who arrives here in great form having made the frame in five (inc 1 win) of her last six starts, although it should be pointed out that this is tougher than her more recent races. She's actually up in class from a 4.5 length defeat at Wolverhampton just three days ago, so that does suggest improvement would be needed here, although her yard has a reasonable enough record here of late, does well with stayers and has a terrific record with those turned back out quickly.

Battle Of Wills is easily the most out-of-form of the six runners here, having lost his last thirteen races over the past 23 months. He has, in fairness, won here over a mile at Newcastle but that was 3yrs and 2 days ago and his overall record here reads 515874. He was 7th of 10 here two visits ago, but came home last in the other three runs oin this track since that win in December 2018. His yard is in reasonable enough form, but the horse is so much on the slide that he now runs off a mark some 20lbs lower than his last handicap win (Ripon : July 2019)

Nastasiya carries bottom weight here and as the other filly in the race, benefits from a 4lb weight allowance. Her yard has a respectable 5yr record at this track and the string have benefited from the booking of today's jockey in recent months. The filly herself is an 11-race maiden, but was only beaten by just over a length when third of seven here over an extended 2m ten days ago. She has gone well over much shorter trips than today, so the half-mile drop back here might not be as much of an inconvenience as you'd think and she certainly got plenty of stamina as demonstrated in recent runs over hurdles.

That's a general overview of the runners, but I'm not sure whether any of them have excelled under the conditions they're likely to face here today. Thankfully, I don't have to guess, because Instant Expert has all the answers...

The place stats tells us quite a bot more than the win only ones do and I think Lopes Dancer probably comes out on top here, although Can Can Girl's ability to make the frame at similar trips to today is excellent. Battle of Wills is on a really low mark, but is bang out of form, Nastasiya's numbers are based off small sample sizes, so might not be that reliable (as 1 win could change everything). Raiff is another inexperienced under these conditions, whilst Major Snugfit is definitely suited by class/distance here.

From a draw perspective, there's not a great deal in it...

...but stalls 2 to 5 would appear to have slight edge, which isn't the best news for low/high drawn Can Can Girl and Major Snugfit, but I suspect race tactics will play a more important role than the draw does over such a long trip...

Leaders have fared abjectly and setting the pace needs to be avoided here. Hold up horses win approximately 5 times from every 6 expected wins, so that's not disastrous, whilst both mid-division and prominent runners have fared best, particularly the latter. I suppose the ideal situation here is to sit patiently just off the leader(s) and pick them off late on and the way our six runners have tackled races of late...'d have to say that Major Snugfit looks the most inconvenienced by his usual running style. He also doesn't have the best of the draw so he's really going to have to go some to land this. That said, he is in really good form right now.


I'm not a fan of backing maidens who've lost double digits amounts of races, so I can't be backing Nastasiya here, nor from a form perspective can I consider Battle of Wills. Raiff is also struggling and was beaten off today's mark last time out, so that suggests he's not winning this and I've quickly got rid of half of the field.

Despite the pace/draw having Major Snugfit at a disadvantage, I believe he's the one to beat here, as do the bookies who've installed him as an 11/4 favourite, which is probably a fair price. As for Lopes Dancer & Can Can Girl, I don't have much separating them on my figures and both could quite easily make the frame, but at odds of 8/1 (good for an E/W bet, too) Lopes Dancer holds a little more appeal than Can Can Girl at a miserly 3/1 or even lower.


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