Racing Insights

Racing Insights, 23rd June 2021

A good day at Brighton for us with the 1-2-3 in the right order giving us a 6/1 winner, a 26/1 forecast/exacta and a 121/1 trifecta. I expected it to be tight and first pick Little Boy Blue only beat Mamillius by a neck. Sadly, as expected, Latent Heat played up in the stalls, reared up and unseated poor Ray Dawson.

Next up is Wednesday, where the excellent Trainer Stats report is our feature of the day and the free races offered will be...

  • 5.30 Naas
  • 6.30 Naas
  • 7.00 Naas
  • 8.10 Kempton
  • 8.20 Bath

Sunbury on Thames is our destination, as we tackle the 8.10 Kempton, a 10-runner (was 11), Class 4, 4yo+ A/W handicap over 1m3f on the polytrack, where one of the following will earn £4,347 for their connections...

As usual, I'll quickly run through what the card tells us before going on to tell you a bit more about the runners themselves, so working generally from left to right...

FORM : Only Viola and Angel On High have won any of their last five outings with the former also being an LTO winner, but six of the field did at least make the frame LTO.
CLASS MOVERS : Noble Masquerade & Nick Vedder both step up one level, whilst the rest all ran at Class 4 last time out.
COURSE / DISTANCE : Lexington Force & Sweet Celebration have both won here in the past, whilst Oh It's Saucepot has scored at a similar distance to today's contest.
DAYS OFF : With the exception of at a shade over nine weeks, the others have all raced in the last five weeks with Lexington Force & Sweet Celebration rested for less than a fortnight. So none turned out too quickly and none allowed to get "rusty".
AGE : Mainly 4 and 5 yrs olds here other than a pair of 7 yr olds (Oh It's Saucepot & Nick Vedder)
TRAINER FORM : Positives for Oh It's Saucepot, Angel On High & Cozone. Negatives for Viola, Sweet Celebration, Noble Masquerade & Nick Vedder.
JOCKEY FORM : Positives for Sweet Celebration, Oh It's Saucepot, Angel On High & Noble Masquerade. Negatives for Lexington Force & Nick Vedder.
OR / SR SPREAD : The assessor rates Snow Ocean some 17lbs better than Assembled and with Laura Pearson claiming 5lbs off the latter, that's then a huge 22lbs spread. The SR figures are also very spread out with Viola some way clear of Nick Vedder who then also a good distance ahead of cozone.

At this point I wouldn't rule any of them out, but Nick Vedder has too many negatives so far for my liking and Assembled looks out of his depth, but maybe we'll fins something good to say about them both below...

Snow Ocean hasn't won any of nine starts since completing a seven-week hat-trick last August/September with a Class 3 win over 1m2.5f at Chester off a mark of 81, but he has finished as a runner-up in three of those defeats including a 0.75 length defeat back at Chester last time out off 83. He's up another 2lbs here and whilst I expect another bold showing, his best win was that off 81, so I think he's just too high in the weights.

Lexington Force has just six runs under his belt and scored here over a mile on debut in early Feb 2020. He was then a runner-up here over that same trip 28 weeks later before rounding off the year with a narrow defeat in third place at Redcar. Sadly since coming back this year, he hasn't looked the same horse and was last off eleven and 8th of 9 in his last two starts and I'm not convinced an extra three furlongs is going to help him.

Viola looks like a progressive filly and ran well in three races over 1m2f-1m4f last summer with a win and two places. She re-appeared at Lingfield a month ago after 201 days off the track and was a more convincing winner than the half length margin would suggest. She did enough and seemed to have plenty to spare. She's up 3lbs but has the benefit of the very useful 5lb claimer Stefano Cherchi on her back and he's in good touch right now...

Beauty Stone has won her last four, but won't run here.

Sweet Celebration ended her 2020 campaign by finishing third at Wolverhampton and was then a runner-up in successive outings in Jan/Feb of this year, but hasn't really moved on. 4th of 5 at Class 2 was followed by 4th of 6 and 4th of 5 back at this Class 4 level and although only beaten by less than 5 lengths LTO, a 2lb drop in weight might not be enough at 2lbs higher than her last win, but she should at least be competitive.

Oh Its Saucepot is a frustrating sort, she's a decent 5 from 17 (29.4%) at a mile to a mile and a half on turf, but hasn't won any of seven starts on the A/W although she did finish third on the only time she tackled this course and distance. She's only 3lbs higher than that run today as she goes off the same mark as a good staying on runner-up finish at Yarmouth last time out. I do like her, but that A/W form is off-putting, but both yard and particularly jockey are in good form...

Angel On High won over 1m2f at Lingfield in mid-January last year and was then not seen for another five months, when he was then a runner-up here over course and distance. he's had another long break since then and looked like needing the run back at Lingfield 18 days ago. He was 4th of 5, beaten by ten lengths over 1m2f, fading badly in the last couple of furlongs, so I'm not sure he'll want this step up in trip, but the Dunlop horses are going well of late...

Cozone has been quite busy for a 4 yr old, having eleven races in eighteen months and since returning from a four month break has run consistently well in defeat finishing 2233, although he did go down by 11 lengths last time out. In his defence, it was very heavy at Haydock that day and he's better than that.

Noble Masquerade has yet to win in nine attempts, although he's only tackled the A/W once when 4th of 12 (8.5 lengths down) here at Kempton over 1m4f at Class 5 last October. He's 2lbs lower than that now and comes here off the back of his best run to date, beaten by a length and a quarter over 1m2f at Sandown. However, he didn't win that day and up in class, trip and weight, it'd be hard to expect him to land this, but his jockey William Buick is riding very well right now...

Nick Vedder is far more effective on the A/W where he is 6 from 37 than he is on the Flat (1/17), but has finished 8th of 10 and 8th of 11 in his last two A/W outings, both here at Kempton over a mile. He's had two good efforts on the flat since then, taking advantage of a reduced turf mark of 64, but now back off 72, as he has been for his last four A/W runs (all defeats), I see him struggling again, especially up in class/trip and his yard/rider not in the best of form.

Assembled completes the line-up and thanks to his jockey's claim will carry a mere 8 stone, but even that might be too much here. Since landing a C5, 1m novice race at Windsor, he is 0 from 6 in handicap company off marks of 77 down to 71 last time out, when beaten by the thick end of 5 lengths. He's up markedly in trip and I'd avoid him here.

Relevant form courtesy of Instant Expert says...

...that Viola is the standout horse on overall form as well as recent form shown on the racecard. Sweet Celebration likes it here at Kempton and my focus is drawn to the top half of the card, as that's where most of the amber and green is.

If you're very pushed for time, Instant Expert can quickly halve the field for you and I'm now definitely leaning towards the top half for my shortlist, depending draw and pace, of course!

Speaking of the draw, in terms of actual win/place percentages, there doesn't really seem to be much of a bias over 37 previous similar encounters, but if you look at PRB scores (Percentage of rivals beaten), then there's more than a suggestion that you'd rather be drawn low.

In terms of actual individual stalls, that theory is backed up with the 1 to 5 area proving successful, but write off those drawn wide at your peril, because the data from boxes 9 & 10 is strong...

So, if there's not a massive draw bias at play, then we need to consider how the race is run, because positioning could make all the difference, but what we find here is that although leaders and mid-division runners win 25% more often than expected, mainly at the expense of those prominent runners caught between the two favoured positions, once again there's not a massive bias.

Obviously prominent runners don't win enough and hold up horses struggle to make the frame (although they're the best converting places into wins at 12/29 = 41.4%), but the only real takeaway for me here prior to seeing the heatmap is that I'm guessing you don't want to be prominent or held up from stalls 6-8. let's check that heatmap and see if we're right to make that assumption...

Well, yes and no, you definitely don't want to be on that mid-drawn hold up horse and the strength of the data from that wide draw is shown above. But to be honest a top rank of 17.65% isn't an overwhelming verdict and this suggests to me that if you can win from most sectors on that chart, then you'd expect a true race where the better horses should come to the fore. You're not likely to lose the race because of the draw or the pace or a combination of both, but obviously there are better places to be on that chart and here's how our runners fill it...

There's clearly not a great deal of pace on offer here, but I'd expect Angel On High to lead them along with Cozone and Snow Ocean following. Getting close to the action would be the best move for these two as that puts them in the green zone. Nick Vedder will have the rail, but also nine horses to get round and that's another nail in his coffin for me. Beauty Stone doesn't run , of course and Viola looks well positioned.

Summary

Alphabetically, the half of the field I expect the winner and placers to come from are Cozone, Oh It's Saucepot, Snow Ocean, Sweet Celebration and Viola with the latter being the one I like most.

So, it's Viola for me today and as main challengers, I'm going to side with Snow Ocean and the frustrating Oh It's Saucepot. I don't imagine the two I've left out will be too far away, but you can't back five! Let's go and see what the bookies say...

Viola is unexpectedly the 10/3 favourite here with my placers currently priced at 5/1 and 11/1 respectively. 11/1 might be generous about Oh It's Saucepot, because I think she's got an A/W performance in her, so I'll have an E/W nibble there.

 

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