Saturday's shortlisted three against the field managed to find a 4/1 winner for a satisfactory end to the week. Monday is often a tough day for punters, but help is at hand via the daily free feature of the Pace tab being available for ALL races, whist our free racecards are offered for the following...
- 12.05 Musselburgh
- 1.45 Dundalk
- 2.20 Dundalk
- 2.45 Ludlow
...and I'm going to look at the first on that list, the 12.05 Musselburgh : a 5-runner, Class 3, Novices Limited Handicap Chase for 4yo+ over 2m on Good ground where the winner will receive £7,668.
Just five go to post and there's the possibility of a fairly short favourite, so it's not an ideal betting medium at first glance. But it does look competitive, so let's have a quick run through the Geegeez toolbox to ascertain whether (a) the favourite deserves to be there or (b) we can get him overturned at a better price. We start, of course, with the card itself...
And like I did for Saturday's race, I'll work through the card from left to right making notes on the pros and cons of each column, something like...
Positive : Gaelik Coast & Return Ticket
Negative : none massively so, as all have won at least once in their last three outings
Positive : Return Ticket drops in class
Negative : Swaffham Bulbeck & Lucky Flight are both up in class after a defeat
All bar Ruinous have won over today's trip, whilst Return Ticket has also previously won here at Musselburgh. In fact that win was also over today's trip, but in a hurdles contest.
Gaelik Coast & Return Ticket come from yards with sustained good records here at Musselburgh, although the latter's trainer is 16 days without a win right now.
Positive : Return Ticket (14) & Gaelik Coast (C5)
Negative : Ruinous (14)
Positive : Ruinous & Return Ticket
Negative : Swaffham Bulbeck
I've now already got a bit of an idea as to who is ticking most boxes, but we need to assess how these horses have performed previously under today's conditions...
As this is a novices handicap, there's not a great deal of chase form to go at, so I've shown you their overall NH records and then the chase-only equivalents and we see that Gaelik Coast has a full line of green albeit off small numbers and is up 7lbs on his last winning mark. Return Ticket has performed better over hurdles than over fences but runs off a winnable mark, whilst Swaffham Bulbeck doesn't appear to be a fan of Good ground (yet has won on Gd to Fm, Gd to Soft and Heavy!)
Ruinous has very little data to work from, especially over fences, whilst Lucky Flight would make plenty of appeal were this a hurdles contest, but has won at both class and trip over fences already. In fact they both happened together at not too distant Perth two starts ago.
So, that's the card done and Instant Expert done and I've still got five runners! Perhaps the pace assessment will narrow my choices down...
The win and place percentages (based on 4-6 runner contests) suggest Prominent racers fare best from both a win and place perspective, whilst hold up horses perform marginally better than leaders.
Another view of those percentages is that leaders have won 2 of 9 races (22.2%) and placed 3 times from 17 (17.6%). Prominent runners are 4/9 (44.4%) and 9/17 (52.9%), whilst hold-ups are 3/9 (33.3%) and 5/17 (29.4%) respectively, which further backs up the suggestion that prominent racers fare best. We've no actual prominent racers on past form, but of the above, I'd say Return Ticket and Swaffham Bulbeck were best placed.
So, where am I now? Well, I'm still holding all five tickets, so I'll need more info on each before making a final decision.
Gaelik Coast will be very popular and he's the one I expect to be the favourite. He comes here having won three on the bounce, all in Novice contests (2 over hurdles at Class 4 over 2m0.5f and a Class 3 chase LTO over 2m1f). He now carries a whopping 11st 11lbs for thar sequence and I'm not sure if that's not too much weight right now.
Return Ticket will find this easier than his last outing when third of four at Cheltenham and beaten by 23 lengths. That was a Class 2 contest, so he's down in class and has also had a wind op, which will hopefully help a little (although they normally need a few runs to fully optimise the surgery). The one he beat that day (by 21 lengths), Getaway Trump re-appeared to win a Class 3 chase at Fakenham last Tuesday rated 144. Return Ticket's mark here is 134, the same as his 13 length victory at Sedgefield two starts ago.
Swaffham Bulbeck is well known to many Geegeez readers and is better than his chase debut would suggest. 5th of 9 beaten by 18 lengths at Sedgefield in a lower grade than this doesn't seem ideal, but he's the sort to come on for having had a crack at fences and he'll relish the drop back in trip, as he has 4 wins and 4 further places from 11 efforts over 2m/2m1f and was a Class 3 winner as recently as September.
Ruinous was a comfortable winner on his chasing debut at Downpatrick in early August and now makes a yard debut for Tim Reed. I'm not entirely sure that the Downpatrick race was of any real quality, but you can only beat what's put in front of you. He carries virtually no weight here (actually receiving 19lbs inc claims from Gaelik Coast) and should at least be competitive, if not not given too much to do late on, as he has struggled over short trips with just one placed finish from five runs at 2m/2m0.5f
Lucky Flight has 3 wins and a place from 6 over obstacles and bare numbers like that are impressive, but he's only a pound lighter than when being beaten by 20 lengths at Hexham last time and his two hurdles wins were both Class 4 contests where he was hanging on grimly at the end. If handling the extra weight and maintains his jumping ability, he has every chance but I feel others are best suited.
Gaelik Flight will be popular and could very well win, but at 13/8, he's not for me and I'd like to see him turned over, as I often do with shorties. This sets the task of finding one (or two!) to beat him or to just walk away from the race, as I'm not backing him at that price based on what I've written/quoted above.
Going back through my notes, Return Ticket ticks a lot of boxes and with bet365 offering 7/2, I'll take my chances there and actually have a couple of quid on him. Those of you wanting a runner with a bigger price could do worse than the outsider Swaffham Bulbeck at 7/1. He could be a decent E/W punt here.
I'm not going big on this one, mind. My two could finish 1-2 (wouldn't that be lovely?), but it's a competitive little contest and we could finish 4-5. Either way, I'll be back again tomorrow!