Racing Insights

Racing Insights, 22nd May 2021

A bit of frustration at Haydock today, as the only runner I didn't know enough about to make a reasoned decision upon went and won at 8/1, completely scattering the field along the way. My 6/1 value pick did manage to grab second place, but she was a good 6½ lengths off the pace and the two overnight principals were the last two home.

It might be anecdotal, but many of the Class 1 races I've looked at so far this season haven't gone too well for short priced favs.

Saturday now beckons and our free helps comes in the shape of the excellent Trainer/Jockey combo report, which does pretty much what it says on the tin and we also have some full free race cards for you, such as...

  • 1.40 Goodwood
  • 2.25 Haydock
  • 2.50 Goodwood
  • 4.10 Haydock
  • 4.15 Newmarket
  • 6.25 Lingfield

That list kicks off with three competitive-looking Class 2 contests, but the fourth of them and the second from Haydock catches my eye the most, because it's a short specialist trip, it's a Class 1 race and conditions underfoot will be tricky.

So, my focus falls upon the 4.10 Haydock, the Group 2, Temple Stakes. Seven 3yo+ (mainly aged 4 & 5) runners will attempt to dash five furlongs on ground currently described as soft (heavy in places), but I live in the North West and I can tell you it seems to have rained solidly/heavily for days. You may well see the Arc at Paris later this year, but I'd not be surprised to see an Ark at Haydock soon.

Top prize is well worth winning at £54,357 and these are the runners, trainers and riders setting out to attempt to land it...

All seven have at least one win in their last six starts and only Ainsdale (up 2) and Jabbarockie (up 1) are stepping up in class today. All seven have winning form at this trip and both Keep Busy/Liberty beach are past course winners, whilst Jabbarockie is a course and distance winner.

Four of the field have been seen already this season with runs in the last five weeks, whilst it's 251 days since Que Amoro, Keep Busy and Liberty Beach last raced in the UK or Ireland, although the latter pair did meet again at Longchamp in the Prix de l'Abbaye three weeks later.

The race 251 days ago was the 14-runner Irish Group 1, Derrinstown Stud Flying Five Stakes over 5f at The Curragh where Keep Busy was the best of today's re-opposing trio, finishing as runner-up just half a length behind the winner Glass Slippers having been headed close to the line. Liberty Beach was 7th of 14, 2.5 lengths behind Keep Busy, whilst Que Amoro was 12th of 14, a further 6 lengths behind Liberty Beach.

Both Liberty Beach and Keep Busy were behind Glass Slippers again at Longhchamp three weeks later, as Glass Slippers was the runner-up beaten by a neck with Liberty Beach just a nose further back in third. Keep Busy was fifth, a further length and a half behind Liberty Beach, so this pair were 1-1 in the head to heads.

Ainsdale and Jabbarockie concede 3lbs to the other five runners, whilst based on OR marks, Que Amoro would be well in at the weights, rated some 18lbs better than Declaring Love, who like Jabbarockie comes here on a hat-trick.

Plenty of positive green icons for trainers and jockeys alike and the SR ratings look tight with just 6pts separating the top four ranked : Keep Busy leads the way there.

Ainsdale rattled off a quick-fire 19-day hat-trick in October 2019 (Classes 2, 3 & 4) but hasn't really reached those heights in five starts since, winning just once in a Class 3 contest, but interestingly on heavy ground. He was 8th of 10, more than 9 lengths adrift on his seasonal reappearance in a Listed race back in March and alstough he was beaten by less than a length when third behind El Astronaute at Chester in first-time cheekpieces last time out, that was only at Class 3 and this looks much tougher for him. He'd not be in my top four.

Jabbarockie comes here on a hat-trick after winning both starts this season in Class 2 handicaps, so whilst this asks more questions of the 8 yr old, he's certainly in good shape. He gets the track, he gets the trip and he has won on soft ground and has a soft ground C&D win to his name. He's sure to give a good account of himself, but needs to eke a bit more out if he's to win.

Declaring Love is also on a hat-trick and she's 3 from 4 in 2021 so far. She landed a 14-runner Listed contest at Bath last time out where she about got the better of it as the lead change hands several times late on. This is a much more difficult task and that Listed race at Bath isn't currently looking the strongest with no winners and no placers from ten runs since and if I'm honest, I think it'll be 0 + 0 from 11 after this race.

Keep Busy has been running consistently well (bar one blip) finishing 2201232 over the last year in the UK/Ireland, ending that season with a really good run to only be beaten by half a length in the Group 1 Flying Five. She then ran very creditably to take fifth at the Prix de l'Abbaye, beaten by less than two lengths and on form, has to be a major contender. I do have slight qualms about the 230-day layoff, though, as she was far from at her best when she came back from 217 days off at Newcastle last year.

Lady In France also ran in that Prix de l'Abbaye finishing fourth in between Liberty Beach and Keep Busy and she beat the latter in a Class 2 contest at York back in August when she landed the Sky Bet Fillies Sprint Handicap despite being quite a bit disdvantaged at the weights. Her form from late last year would ut her up at Keep Busy's level, but she was disappointing upon her return at York ten days ago, when she could only muster 10th of 12, beaten by some 17 lengths. She's going to have to improve massively here to be involved, although the drop in trip will help.

Liberty Beach is not only well matched with Keep Busy, but they're also stable mates. I tried to look at jockey bookings to see if the yard had a preference and Jason Hart rides this one and he's 4 from 10 on her back, whilst he is 1 from 9 on Keep Busy, who is ridden by Oisin Murphy for the first time. I suppose it's down to interpretation of circumstances, but I'm happy that Jason rides Liberty Beach, who I feel has a slight edge over her stable mate. I also don't have the sam lay-off qualms about this one, as she won a Listed event here last June after not racing for 290 days.

Que Amoro completes the line-up and prior to flopping in the afore-mentioned Flying Five at The Curragh, was in great form finishing 112132 from mid-July onwards. She was the runner-up in the Group 1 Nunthorpe at York back in August where she got to within half a length of the winner, the 1/2 fav and 126-rated Battaash and a similar run would easily be good enough to land this, but I do have concerns about her 251 days in the shed. I know she won a Listed race at Ayr last season off the back of a 276-day absence, but this ground is far tougher than what she faced at Ayr and it might just take too much out of her.

Soft ground or worse is often a leveller and the minimum 5f trip is a specialist one, even beofre you discuss the merits of needing decent prior Haydock form etc. Thankfully Instant Expert has all the data we need for comparison purposes...

I admit I didn't fancy Ainsdale from my write-up, but there's no doubting that the ground will be right up this 4 yr old colt's street. Liberty Beach is a 3-time Class 1 winner so far and is 4 from 9 at the trip.

The draw would suggest the centre of the stalls isn't the place to be...

...but there doesn't seem to be a massive pace bias here...

Prominent and mid-division runners have an IV of 0.97, which is only 3% below par, so it's clear that any running style could win. The place stats are little clearer, though and there's a lineality about the results which dictate that the further forward you race, the more chance you have of making the frame.

Haydock is a real test for jockeys assessing the pace and it can be a tough place to make up ground in poor weather, so I'd expect even the hold up horses to run somewhat closer to the pace than eslewhere or in better conditions.

The pace/draw combo make-up is interesting here with an almost scattering of successful combinations, not withstanding that a high draw is still very favourable...

We can then add our runners past pace profiles to that graphic along with today's draw, but we are leaning on data from races quite a while ago with three of them not seen for over eight months, so do be a little cautious when assessing the data. As with any stat, it's dangerous to take it as gospel when treated in isolation!

But here goes anyway...

It looks like Que Amoro and Jabbarockie will attempt to set the pace and I did like the look of the latter, but that graphic above is a little off putting as is the step up in class, even though he is in good nick, so I'm reluctantly ruling him out. Que Amoro remains of interest.

Lady In France is similarly poorly treated on pace/draw and that allied with her poor show last time around rules her out for me here. I didn't like Ainsdale's chances from the very start and although he'll relish the softness of the track, this is too much of an ask for him right now. He'll win plenty of races, but I don't think this will be one of them.

Summary

A real difficult puzzle to solve and although I don't think that it's the case, but I may have already discarded the winner! Fingers crossed that I haven't. At this point, I'm down to four possibles and the prudent thing would be to say they could all win, close my laptop and walk away, but where's the fun in that?

So, with a feeing if needing to see the job through, I'm going to say that on form and what I've already said, Liberty Beach holds stablemate Keep Busy, but at 2/1 I don't want to back her. So do I back Que Amoro, Declaring Love or none?

Declaring Love is in fine form, but this is another step forward and the Bath listed race she won LTO hasn't panned out, so I'm not backing her either, which all leads to Que Amoro. She's likely to lead and might be tough to catch/stop, she gets on well with her jockey, her yard have started to pick up a few winners, she goes well fresh and that run of hers behind Battaash was excellent.

So, why is she only 9/2 third favourite? Because she has no form on soft ground. No form at all, she has never run on soft, so it's 9/2 she gets the ground and I think I might just have a couple of quid on her doing so. Otherwise I think Liberty Beach catches her and wins again.

 

 

 

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