Tuesday is my 20th wedding anniversary to the long-suffering Mrs W. To mark this
suspicious auspicious occasion, we open up the Shortlist Report to ALL readers, along with full access to the following "races of the day"...
- 12.30 Huntingdon
- 1.15 Wetherby
- 2.20 Wetherby
- 4.05 Clonmel
Sadly, there's not much jumping out at me from the Shortlist Report and of our four feature races, the first of the two Yorkshire contests probably lends itself best to my analysis. It's not an ideal race to assess, as it looks a two-horse race on paper, but our processes are still the same and even if we conclude it will be a two-horse race, we might just find ourselves a decent E/W punt for the third place in the 1.15 Wetherby, a Class 5, Conditional Jockeys Handicap Hurdle over two miles on good to soft ground, where they line up as follows...
Aquitaine Boy and Top beak are someway clear of the pack on Geegeez ratings, whilst the latter is one of two LTO winners, along with Peltwell, who sits third on the ratings.
Our Rodney had one decent run over 6f on the Flat, when narrowly winning a maiden back in September 2018. Hasn't really shown much in nine runs since on A/W, Flat and over hurdles with his best effort coming when third in a 2m0.5f hurdle at Stratford last August. That said, he was still 10 lengths off the pace and although down in class/weight here and the yard back amongst the winners (3/13 in the last fortnight), he looks an unlikely victor here.
Lleyton seems to have been everywhere, having raced in Ireland and the UK on the A/W. the Flat, in bumpers, over hurdles and even chasing. He won a couple of A/W handicaps over 1m6f last October and was a runner-up in a bumper two starts ago, but was pulled up before the last hurdle over a longer trip last time out. Has the chance of a place, but jumping can be sketchy.
Rukwa was running well in A/W staying handicaps at Newcastle before Christmas, but hasn't tackled a hurdle since mid-October 2020 when beaten by 25 lengths off just four pounds higher at Huntingdon, so improvement is needed here, especially for a yard desperately out of form and with a poor record at this venue.
Top Beak has been second and then first in his last two outings, both handicap selling hurdles. he was beaten by 18 lengths on soft ground at Fakenham a month ago before winning by 7.5 lengths on good to soft at Catterick 13 days ago, taking advantage of a 3lb drop in weight. He's up 6lbs for that win and with his jockey's claim reduced to 3lbs here, he's effectively 10lbs higher than LTO and might not be the shoo-in people think.
Argus hasn't completed a race over hurdles since finishing last of 10 at Bangor back in October 2017, beaten by some 65 lengths. He had been running pretty well on the A/W in the interim, though, before reverting to hurdling in January. Sadly, he was pulled before 2 out in both hurdles starts since the switch back to this sphere and he's not one I'd want to have to rely on.
Brawny is an unusual runner, in so much that I'm struggling to find anything positive at all to write about him. Yet to make the frame in 17 attempts across A/W, Flat, Bumpers and Hurdles, I fully expect that to become 0 from 18 here. His narrowest defeat over hurdles is 13 lengths and that pretty much sums him up for me.
Aquitaine Boy was well beaten in two bumpers but suggested promise/ability when fourth on hurdles debut despite being off the track for 293 days. Sadly he hasn't kicked on from there and in three runs since he has been pulled up and then beaten by 74 lengths and 51 lengths. He's only a pound better off here and 51 lengths is a lot to find!
Peltwell took full advantage of a dropping handicap mark to narrowly win a big-field handicap at Wincanton last time out. She was just a short head clear at the post over 1m7.5f hanging on gamely. She might have only just edged it, but she was 12 lengths and more clear of the rest of the pack, so she can be judged to have run a decent race. She raced wide at times that day and hit a couple of hurdles. A tighter line and improved jumping could see her go in again and defy a 7lb rise. There's an interesting jockey change here with in-form Danny McMenamin (6/26 in the last fortnight) taking the ride, which could also help.
Just Got To Get On doesn't inspire me to get on, if I'm honest. A close third on bumper debut just over two years ago is his career highlight. Since then, progressively bigger defeats of 30, 64 and 115 lengths preceded him being pulled up last time out. The only thing I can think of here, is a series of poor runs designed to get him a lowly opening mark. After all, there's no way he should have been in a Listed race last time out.
Farocco has made the frame over hurdles on just two occasions from twenty and they came in back to back contests in June/July 2018. He generally gets beaten by 20 to 40 lengths and there's little to suggest that won't be the case again today.
Kisumu completes this sorry excuse of a field and comes here "boasting" a 0 from 51 record. Yes, 0 from 51! But that's not just over hurdles, he's "only" 0 from 35 over hurdles and has made the frame five times. And in his defence, he was a one-length runner-up over course and distance in this very race last year. Mind you, he was sent off as the 15/8 fav that day and that won't be happening here either. Plus as if his poor recent form wasn't enough of a hindrance, he's 4lbs out of the handicap here.
Well, you can definitely tell that we're in that between Cheltenham & Aintree dead zone, where the programme is full of poor horses in poor races and this is no exception. Between the eleven of them, this field have raced on 270 previous occasions, making the frame just 54 (20% SR) times and going on to win just 19 (7%) of them. I might be wrong (but I probably won't be), but I'm guessing we'll not glean too much from Instant Expert from a win perspective and that even the place stats might not great reading, but let's try anyway...
Not many surprises there and the three "best" placed on the win graphic are all carrying much more weight that their last win, but at least they've won recently! Hopefully the pace stats will help me out, otherwise I'm relying on form, my write-ups and gut feeling here.
Up top or nearby is ideally where you want to be here at Wetherby...
...but the last four runs for this bunch say there's absolutely no pace in the race at all and we think it might well be falsely run. Here are the four-race averages...
...which is inconclusive, but if we then consider the horses' two most recent efforts...
...it might well be that Top Beak will try to win this off the front end with Kisumu possibly attempting to keep him company early on.
This isn't as cut and dried as I hoped it would be after analysing the data/evidence, but I'm happy enough to share my thoughts/opinions on what looks a poor race. I don't give many of these a chance of winning and many of them are perennial losers, but the three I fancy to do best are (alphabetically, of course!) Lleyton, Peltwell and Top Beak. Lleyton offers the best E/W value at 8/1 and I've got him in third.
This means I've ended up where I feared I might, the original two-horse race, but I'm not siding with the fav here. My preference is the 7/2 Peltwell ahead of 2/1 Top Beak. The latter won't be the shoo-in people think and I think he'll just miss out whilst conceding weight to this gutsy mare. Sometimes in this low-grade contests, grit and determination can make up for some ability and she showed she had something, if not balls, last time out.