Wednesday is the last day of racing in the UK before Christmas and like every Wednesday, our free GOLD feature is the Trainer Stats (TS) report, which is, in fact, four reports in one. It contains information on a trainer’s recent form, and their longer term course form. For each of 14 day, 30 day, course one year, and course five year, users can filter by runs, wins, places, win profit/loss and each way profit/loss. Clicking on any row in the report will reveal the runners that trainer has entered on the day in question, and clicking on the runner row will open that race in a new tab.
HINT: It can help to cross refer the profit figures of the trainer with their win/place percentage. A few big priced winners can mean a trainer has a high profit number but a low strike rate. You may need to be very patient, and a bit lucky, to come out in front this way!
[As ever, please refer to the very detailed User Guide for further information]
In addition to the daily free GOLD feature, we always have a selection of full free racecards for all readers and for Wednesday, they are...
- 12.15 Ludlow
- 2.15 Ludlow
- 3.55 Southwell
- 4.30 Southwell
Now, two of our free races and all of my TS report qualifiers are at Southwell on the relatively new (just four meetings) Tapeta surface, so I'm still maintaining a watching brief there. Of the other two free races, I have to admit that Lady Amateur Jockeys' jumps races aren't my thing, so it's almost Hobson's Choice that I sign off for a short break with the 2.15 Ludlow. That said, it looks a decent enough race on paper and I'd expect it to be competitive, which is all you can ask for in this "dead" time before the excesses of Boxing Day.
For the record, it's a 7-runner, Class 3, 4yo+ Handicap Chase over 3m on Good To Soft (Good in places) ground, where they'll go right handed over 19 fences in a bid to earn just over £10k for their connections...
All bar Volcano have a win in their recent form-line with The Newest One and Dublin Four bringing the best results to the table. The former is the only class riser in the field, stepping up one grade from an LTO win 26 days ago, whilst both Smarty Wild and Head To The Stars drop down a level after third place finishes at Class 2. Didero Vallis bears top weight and should find this easier after two Grade 3 runs this season.
Smarty Wild has won here before, Premier D'Troice and The Newest One have both won over this trip, whilst Head To The Stars and Volcano are both former course and distance winners. All have had the benefit of at least one recent run in the last seven weeks and Volcano last ran just six days ago when failing to complete at Exeter.
Didero Vallis won at Catterick on heavy ground back in February and ended last season with a Class 2 runner-up finish at Kelso before taking seven months off. Has finished sixth (40L & 29L defeats) so far this season, but both at Grade 3 and his yard is in great form.
Smarty Wild is a consistent if unspectacular sort who has made the frame in 5 of 8 over fences, but has only managed to win once. Has never gone beyond 2m5½f in any sphere, but tend to be more of a plugger-on than a fast finisher, so 3m might suit. One for the shortlist, but probably not the winner.
Head To The Stars is definitely a hit or miss type and you never known which one will turn up. Two wins and a place from his last seven is tempered by him being pulled up in the other four and this isn't a recent thing with him failing to complete 8 of his last 16 stretching back to April 2018. Unreliable and after two decent runs in his last three is likely to fold again, despite...
Dublin Four only started chasing 13 months ago but has finished 12P33141 since and comes here off the back of a win at Newbury seven weeks ago despite having been off track for 200 days. That was his first start for Fergal O'Brien and he won fairly cosily that day, so he'd be entitled to come on for the run despite a 5lb rise and is a definite player here.
Premier D'Troice was a reasonable enough hurdler (3 wins & 3 places from 12) who won both his first two efforts over fences giving him a handicap mark of 134, some 10lbs higher than his last hurdles win. He has toiled in two handicaps since going down by 19 lengths off 134 and then by 47 lengths off 132 so it's difficult to see a 4lb drop being enough to spark some form here.
Volcano comes from a yard with a decent record in handicap chases over recent years (9/46 = 19.6% for 2019-21) with this horse adding 4 wins from 11 to that number. He had a real purple patch over four months last season finishing 114131, but hasn't got anywhere near those heights this term, failing to complete his last two outings. He's now just 2lbs higher than his last win, but still runs off the same mark as when struggling at Exeter last week, so I doubt he's going to make much impact here.
The Newest One has been in fine form so far this season with two wins and a runner-up finish from three starts, In fairness, all three were modest Class 4 contests and the race last time out was a particularly weak affair, but you can only beat what's in front of you. Up in class and weight (+3lbs), this will be tougher, but he does get weight all round and both his trainer & jockey are both in decent nick.
At this point, I'm leaning towards the form horses, Dublin Four, Smarty Wild & The Newest One. I don't particularly like any of the other four right now, as they'd need significant upturns to win this. let's see if Instant Expert's overview of their form in similar conditions shows them in a better light...
Volcano does look better on that graphic, if truth be told but it's still hard to get a way from how he's running right now. Dublin Four looks good again, as does The Newest One, whilst only Premier D'Troice is back at his last winning mark with the others all 2 to 5 lbs higher.
Since 2014, similar small-field staying handicap chases on good to soft ground here at Ludlow have favoured the front runners with an almost linear decreasing if success the further back a horse is positioned in the field. Probably easiest explained with graphs and numbers, I suppose...
Hold-up horses do have a better than expected place percentage, which suggests they're too far adrift to win but power through late on at the expense of the prominent runners who might tire after chasing the leader(s), but front running is definitely the way forward, which based on this field's recent efforts...
...would appear to suit The Newest One far more than Dublin Four. That said, there's no out and out front runner and the distance from back to front might not be as great as it could be. The fact is that almost half of those 28 runs above have been hold-up efforts, so this might end up being run at a false (slower) pace, which then plays into the hand of those lower down that chart.
From the outset and then backed up by Instant Expert, I preferred the look of Dublin Four, Smarty Wild & The Newest One and even though they don't all share the same pace profile, you can still make a case for all three on pace, so I'm sticking with this trio as my 1-2-3.
Despite looking like he'll be held up, Dublin Four ticks most boxes for me and he's my preference and whilst I've very little between the other pair, The Newest One is in better form, scored better on IE and gets weight all round, even if he does step up in class here.
I was hoping for around 5/2 about my pick, he's currently 9/4, so I'm not far out there whilst the other pair of possible placers are 10/3 and 5/1 respectively as it would seem that the market agrees with the way I've read it. It doesn't mean we're right, of course, but it's mildly reassuring. The Newest One is a little longer than I expected, balancing out the minor shortfall on Dublin Four, but Smarty Wild's 5/1 price ticket might carry some value.