Racing Insights

Racing Insights, 23rd September 2021

Thursday's feature of the day is full access for all readers to the Instant Expert tab on the racecards. This is by far the most popular tab in the geegeez racecards.

The reason? It has the ability to condense the entire form profile of every runner in the race into a single, easily digestible, view.

The report covers the form in terms of wins (or places), runs, and win (or place) percentage for each of going, class, course, distance, and field size. It also compares today’s official rating with the horse’s last winning official rating.

The display is colour coded: green for a higher percentage rate, amber for a middling percentage, and red for a low percentage. Horses with no form under a certain condition have grey figures.

IMPORTANT NOTE: Where a horse has no UK/Irish form – i.e. it is having its first run in Britain or Ireland under Rules – it will not show up on Instant Expert at all.

And every Thursday we make this open to all readers for all races, including our free ones, which will be

  • 1.25 Perth
  • 2.15 Listowel
  • 3.20 Newmarket
  • 4.05 Pontefract
  • 5.25 Wolverhampton

One of our five free races is a Listed race, so we'll look at that here. It's the 3.20 Newmarket, where 10 runners will race over two miles on good to soft ground for a prize of almost £29,500...

Only Max Vega, Morando and Nayef Road are without a relatively recent win, whilst both island Brave & Rhythmic Intent were winners last time out. Both LTO winners are stepping up from Class 2 today, as are Max Vega and Roberto Escobarr, whilst all the field have raced in the last six weeks, with four (Nayef road, Rhythmic Intent, Eileendover & Crowns Major) having been seen in the past fortnight.

The age spread is 4 to 8 and if this was a handicap, Nayef Road would berst in at the weights with Noonday Gun worst off, rated some 19lbs inferior.

Positive trainer stats for Roberto Escobarr, Rhythmic Intent and Sleeping Lion on recent form plus Morando and Sleeping Lion for course records. Nayef Road's jockey is in good touch as re the riders of Morando, Noonday Gun and Sleeping Lion, but Jamie Spencer (Crowns Major) is struggling right now. The jockeys highlighted for good course records are aboard Max Vega, Morando and Sleeping Lion, but Shane Kelly (Eileendover) has toiled here of late.

Roberto Escobarr won a Listed race at York in June and was only beaten by four lengths in a Group 3 at the same venue four weeks later. He wasn't at this best when 6th in the Ebor, but was second of all those drawn in the first eight stalls. It'll be interesting to see how he copes with 2m for the first time, but his two Class 1 York runs suggest he could get involved.

Crowns Major stayed 2m½f on his Irish debut five months ago, landing a 22-runner bumper at Punchestown and was also a half-length runner-up of 19 in a soft ground handicap at Galway in late July, so trip and going should be fine, but this is a big race for a UK debut.

Island Brave is arguably better on the A/W (7 from 22) than on turf (4/22), but landed a Class 2 handicap over 1m6f at Haydock earlier this month, bringing to an end a run of seven runs without making the frame. He stays further than and whilst maybe not as good as some of the others, he'll still be running when many are struggling. Could make the frame here, especially as....

Max Vega looked really useful in his first three races, some two years back, culminating in a Group 3 win here at Newmarket over 1m2f. Since then, he has only raced six times, finishing 502075 and was well beaten on his only crack at two miles. He finished strongly in the Ebor last time out, but I have doubts about him getting the trip here, despite...

Morando is a respectable 7 from 28 on the Flat, but is winless in nine since landing a Group 3 race at Ascot almost two years ago. He did, however, look like he was coming back to form when third of seven at Chester last time out, beaten by just over a length in another Listed contest and if the rain comes, he'll be happier.

Nayef Road won a 2m½f Group 3 race at Newcastle last summer before being beaten by only the mighty Stradivarius in a pair of Group 1 stayers at Ascot & Goodwood. he hasn't quite been as good this term, unfortunately, but was third of six and only 6.5 lengths behind 'Strad' again in the Doncaster Cup last time out. That's no disgrace and this is a drop in quality for a horse that stays, won't mind a bit of dampness underfoot and likes coming here...

Noonday Gun is just 2 from 11 at Class 4/5, but did tackle a Listed race at Chester last time out finishing 5th of 7 in a tight finish where he lacked closing speed over 1m6½f and was more than a length and a half behind the re-opposing Morando who was third that day. I'd be surprised if he was anywhere near the reckoning here, despite the form of his jockey...

Rhythmic Intent is probably more reliable/workmanlike than he is a superstar, but he plugs on and runs his race more often than not, making the frame in 12 of 22 on turf. Soft ground doesn't faze him, he goes best within a month of his last run and was a winner of a Class 2 handicap at Doncaster less than a fortnight ago. This will be the furthest trip he's tackled, but if 'getting' it, he could surprise a few by making the frame at a price.

Sleeping Lion last won on turf a little over two years ago and hasn't made much impression in six efforts since, making the frame just once. He did, however, land a Class 2 A/W handicap at Kempton at the start of the season, but his three runs since then have seen him finish 12th of 15, 4th of 12 and 7th of 8 and that's not good enough for a race like this, even if...

Eileendover is the only filly in the race and only made her debut in November of last year. She kicked her career off with a hat-trick of bumper wins, the last of which was a Listed race over 2m1f on heavy ground in January. That should assure us of her stamina if nothing else.She hasn't quite hit those heights on the Flat yet, but has run consistently well in five efforts. She has won once in a Class 2 handicap here at Newmarket over 1m6f and her average margin of defeat in the other four is only around 5.5 to 6 lengths, so I'd expect her to be there or thereabouts without actually doing enough to win.

And now, our feature of the day, Instant Expert...

My take on the above win/place graphics is that Roberto Escobarr and Crowns Major are in largely new surroundings. Island Day and Noonday gun don't look well suited right now. The winner might well come from Max Vega, Morando, Nayef Road and Rhythmic Intent based on those numbers, whilst we don't really have enough relevant form about Sleeping Lion and/or Eileendover, although the former does like the trip.

Many flat races are heavily influenced by pace, draw and the interaction between the two. Regular readers will know that I don't set as much aside for the draw in these long distance races as I do for the sprints etc, but that doesn't mean the draw stats have no validity and with only a small number of similar races to consider, we should tread carefully, but...

...the initial inference is that those drawn highest fare best and when we look at the data stall by stall...

...horses drawn in 1-7 have 5 wins from 63 (7.94%) with 18 (28.57%) making the frame, but those drawn 8 and higher are 4 from 18 (22.22%) with 8 (44.44%) making the frame. These are small sample sizes, of course, but those drawn 8 and above seem 2.8 times more likely to win and 1.6 times more likley to place, which could be good news for Crowns major, Island Brave and Rhythmic Intent.

The pace stats seem more clear...

...with the basic premise being sit and wait. As you're probably aware, we log the running styles of all horses, awarding them a pace score of 1-4 where 1 = held up, 2 = mid-div, 3 = prominent and 4 = led. A horse with a 4-race score of 4 is a confirmed hold-up horse and one with 16 is an out and out pace-setter. This is how our ten runners have raced most recently...

We actually have no out and out pace or hold-up horses here, but Max Vega has two scores of 4, whilst Nayef Road, Noonday Gun and Island brave have all made the pace once recently. Max vega is a strange one, as he's also been held up twice, as have Island Brave, Crowns Major, Morando and Sleeping Lion.

We can then combine pace and draw as follows...

...that's a fairly telling picture, as long as we remember that it is only based upon nine races and when we add our runners to that heatmap...

...Nayef Road and then Roberto Escobarr are best suited of those drawn low or even in stalls 1-7. Those in 4 to 7 don't have a favourable make-up at all, but those in the high draws are sitting nicely in the green. And I think that those in stalls 1, 2, 8, 9 and 10 are the half of the field I want to be with here.


So, at this point, I've already set aside those in stalls 3 to 7 and I now just need to take two more out before deciding whether to have a bet or not. Crowns Major is probably the weakest of my five and this represents a huge step up for his UK debut, so he's out of my reckoning and then based on pace/draw, I'd say Roberto Escobarr is worst off there of my four survivors, I don't have enough collateral form data about him and he's conceding weight all round, so he's the final evictee.

That leaves us with Island Brave, Nayef Road and Rhythmic Intent as my three against the field and I prefer Nayef Road to the others. His perennial fly in the ointment, Stradivarius, isn't here for once and it could well be our boys day. He's 7/2 here, which is borderline acceptable, but very skinny indeed.

Island Brave looks set fair for a place ahead of Rhythmic Intent, but with the pair of them priced at 11/1 and 14/1, they might make for nice E/W bets, especially if Nayef Road shortens any further.



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