Thursday wasn't Racing Insight's best day, as Robinshill was last of five finishers, beaten by 11 lengths and Whoshotthesheriff was withdrawn from the action 40 minutes before the off. So I suppose, as the song would suggest, things can only get better on Friday, where I'll be assisted by 'feature of the day' aka the Horses for Courses report and we'll also have the following free 'races of the day' to tilt at...
- 2.30 Musselburgh
- 2.40 Newbury
- 3.15 Newbury
- 3.50 Newbury
- 8.00 Dundalk
And in typical racing style, after a few days of poor racing we've several decent contests to get stuck into. Our free races include competitive-looking Class 2 and 3 heats, so I'm going to tackle what looks (on paper at least), the best of the free quintet, the 2.30 Musselburgh.
It's a 9-runner, Class 2, Handicap Hurdle for 4 yr olds over 2m0.5f on good ground that will be softer in places and the prize for this Juvenile Hurdle Series Final is a decent one at just shy of £19k. My initial (and very brief) first glance at the card suggest a 4-horse race, but here's the card in full..
En Couleur is a far way clear of the pack on the Geegeez ratings ahead of Breguet Boy, who is one of two LTO winners, along with Magna Moralia. Eight of the nine are stepping up two classes here, apart from Progressive who ran in this grade almost five weeks ago.
Feldspar has finished 335 in his three efforts over hurdles so far and was beaten by almost 19 lengths at Kelso last time out. His two previous runs were both here at Musselburgh, beaten by just over two lengths at Class 4 and then by 15 lengths in a Listed race. He was said to have finished lame at Kelso last time and so it's a bit of a surprise to see him out again less than three weeks later. Not one I'd want to back.
Breguet Boy has made the frame in all four hurdles starts to date, finishing 1231. All four have been here at Musselburgh and his two wins have been over 2m on Good and Soft ground. He's up 8lbs for winning seven weeks ago, but was comfortable that day and could well go in again, especially with his jockey riding so well right now (6/20 in the last fortnight).
Le Magnifique is the third of three Keith Dalgleish runners in this race along with Feldspar and Breguet Boy above and he has made the frame in two of his four starts over hurdles, winning once on his second effort, when catching a very short priced favourite on the run-in. He was well beaten last time out and has only been eased 2lbs for his troubles and he's not one I'd expect to win here.
Progressive is the only filly in the race and the only runner to have run at this Class 2 level last time out. Whether she's living up to her name progressive is up for debate. She won over this trip on heavy ground at Doncaster (Class 4) on hurdling debut just after Christmas and was then beaten by just over ten lengths in a Listed contest, no disgrace there, but she was last of four home at Haydock five weeks ago, some 68 lengths adrift having tailed off from 3 out. Has ability, but something doesn't quite seem right.
Magna Moralia, on the other hand, seems to be coming along nicely. A runner-up in each of his first two efforts over hurdles and not beaten by far in either during September/October, he then had a spin at 1m6f on the Flat on soft ground at Redcar and was third, beaten by just half a length on soft ground. He has tackled hurdles twice more since, finishing fourth at Catterick and then a win last time out by five lengths at Kelso after a 15-week break. He goes off a fair mark here and could well kick on.
Genever Dragon won on his hurdling debut by a length at Sedgefield in late-September but hasn't really caught the eye in three defeats since and was beaten by almost 40 lengths last time out. He's been off the track for almost 15 weeks now and might well need the run as the only runner here not to have been seen on the last seven weeks. A watching brief at best, I'd say.
Caldwell is lightly raced so far after just six starts in which he has failed to win so far. He has finished 242 over hurdles in three attempts, but has gone doen by 32L, 20L and 5L in those three. That five-length defeat at Kelso last time out when beaten by Magna Moralia (but immediately ahead of the re-opposing Le Magnifique, Monash and Feldspar) was definitely his best effort to date and he now meets his victor 8lbs better off.
En Couleur has been more consistent than spectacular or successful over hurdles so far, with a form line reading 4354, but the average margin of his defeats is only around 12 lengths, so he's not getting left behind. He heads our ratings and might relish the ground being a bit quicker than he's used to. He'd need things to fall his way, but could well threaten the places.
Monash carries bottom weight here, some 24lbs less than top-weight Feldspar and comes here off a respectable fourth place in that Kelso contest mentioned above featuring five of this field. He ran exclusively on the A/W at Newcastle in January and February and cam close to landing a couple of Class 6 handicaps over 1m2f and 1m4.5f, so he's got some ground speed. Stamina has, however, looked suspect over 2 miles and beyond and even off such a low weight, I think he struggles here.
Juveniles by their very definition don't have many past races to discuss or draw pointers from and as such have even fewer wins to consider, so the place view on Instant Expert is more likely to help us than the win only element, but here they both are...
Either way, Breguet Boy is the standout horse on those charts with the obvious caveat again that we're only dealing with small sample sizes. Magna Moralia's consistency is also apparent and there are other splashes of green around for other runners.
So we've an idea of how they've ran recently and we've seen their stats under today's conditions, but with many of these untested and/or unproven in similar circumstances, the pace of the race might well be the key, notwithstanding we've already got a couple of runners catching the eye.
What we do know from our Geegeez data is that prominent racers fare much much better than the other three running styles. Leaders win around half of the races they'd expect to, but do have the best place ratio. Prominent runners win 1.7 times more often than you'd think they would and make the frame 4 times every 11 attempts. Hold-up horses and mid-division runners don't win many, but those held-up do win twice as often as those just ahead of them in the pace rankings.
Numerically, that looks like this...
And here's how our four runners would race, if they all ran to the average running style of their last four contests.
This is, of course, both inconclusive and problematic as there's no leader, but every race has a leader, so a deeper dive might be needed. So, what we do is look at those last four races individually to see if we've any who might take the lead here and the data says...
...that two of them have scored 4 (ie led) twice in their last three runs. Caldwell led last time out and also three starts ago and finished as a runner-up on both occasions, not seeing the trip out, whilst Genever Dragon has led in each of his last two before being well beaten. I suspect this pair will lead out here with Breguet Boy and Magna Moralia seizing the optimal "prominent racer" berths.
I had a suspicion that this might be a four-horse race, but just two runners stand out for me. At every stage of the analysis, Breguet Boy and Magna Moralia were the eyecatchers and as such, I've got them as my 1-2 in that order and I have them well clear of the pack. On my reckoning it'll be close for third between Progressive and En Couleur.
Bookies-time (5pm)...my two against the field are 9/2 and 10/3 respectively. Breguet Boy looks a reasonable bet at that price, but MM looks a little short. The two I've got chasing the final place are 4/1 and 10/1 respectively, so whilst Progressive just shades it on my numbers, En Couleur would be the value for an E/W punt.