Racing Insights

Racing Insights, 26th May 2021

Tuesday's featured race is the last of the evening, so I'll crack on with my look at Wednesday's racing, where ALL readers are assisted with free access to not only the excellent Trainer Stats report, but also to the full cards and tools for these races...

  • 5.00 Gowran Park
  • 6.50 Wolverhampton
  • 7.10 Gowran Park

I'll think I'll take a break from full race profiling to have a look at the 5yr handicap record of trainer Mark Walford when sending his horses on the short 35-miole journey from Sheriff Hutton to Beverley races. So, our starting point is, of course, the Trainer Stats report...

Mark has two bites of the Beverley handicap cherry with Zumurud and Bit Of A Quirke, both are geldings, both are entered into Class 5 handicaps on soft ground and both are to be ridden by 5lb claimers. Both have raced/placed in the last 10 days and I'd expect both to be fairly popular in the market and would think they'd be sub-6/1 shots.

Zumurud is a 6 yr old and he goes at 2.20, a 10-runner race over 7.5f and will be ridden by Ella McCain, whilst the 8 yr old Bit Of A Quirke races two hours later over a mile and a quarter in a field of 8 under Tyler Heard.

Since the start of 2017 in all handicaps, Mark Walford's runners have won a modest 82 of 703 contests at a strike rate of 11.66%, but here at Beverley in the same time-frame, his record stands at 9 from 33 (SR = 27.27% & A/E = 1.88). And of those 33 runners, there are some good strike rates in similar contests to the two we're considering here...

  • 66.66% (2 from 3) from LTO winners (Bit of a Quirke won LTO)
  • 66.66% (2 from 3) over 7.5f (Zumurud)
  • 46.66% (7 from 15) at odds of 6/1 or shorter (I expect both here)
  • 37.5% (6 from 16) placed LTO (both)
  • 36.36% (4 from 11) from those last seen 6-10 days earlier (both)
  • 33.33% (2 from 6) runners-up LTO (Zum)
  • and 30% (6 from 20) over 1m2f (BoaQ)

Zumurud was a winner on soft ground at Catterick two starts ago and came within a head of backing it up at Ayr a week ago on just his fourth run for the yard. He was headed virtually on the line that day on much quicker ground and although now 2lbs higher, should still be very much involved returning to softer ground. Ella McCain was on board for those last two runs and she quite rightly retains the ride, she's also bang in form right now, so her confidence should be high.

As you can see, he's never raced here at Beverley before, but I'd suspect he'll be here more often after the change of yard. He gets soft ground well enough (was a runner-up in the one he didn't win) and he has made the frame in 50% of his six runs at this grade. He's a winner at 5,6 and 7 furlongs, so not only does have the strength for this trip, he's got a turn of foot too and is only 2lbs higher than his last win, but has also won off marks of 77 and 79 in the past.

He's drawn in stall 8, which although technically in the "wrong" half of the draw has been the most successful here in 9-12 runner handicaps on good to soft to soft/heavy handicaps here of late (I expanded the field/going criteria to give me more workable data).

As for pace, it pays to lead here over this trip and that pace bias is pretty huge...

Unfortunately for Zumurud, this is where he might fall down, as he's basically somewhere between prominent and mid-division and there's an out and out pacesetter in the pack...

It looks like Alibaba will set the fractions here from a good draw in stall 2 and Zumurud might well be forced to kick on a little earlier than normal, but it looks like he'll be third away from stalls.

I'm going to look at the other ace, before passing any verdict, so let's assess the chances of Bit of a Quirke who runs in the 4.20.

He was well beaten at Doncaster two months ago upon his return from 162 days off the track, but that proved be the pipe-opener he needed as he has finished 221 in three outings since. He was runner-up in back to back efforts here (beaten by 1.75L and 2.5L at Class 5 then Class 4) in late April/early May, but held on to gamely win a 15-runner handicap over today's trip on soft ground at Leicester last week when today's jockey, Tyler Heard, rode him for the first time.

He has six wins and three further places from a dozen efforts over course and distance, the market is generally a good indicator of his chances (7 from 18 at 6/1 and shorter) and goes well when quickly tuned back out (7/22 after less than 3 weeks rest and 3/7 within 10 days). He looks to have every chance here despite a 4lb rise in weight to a mark of 64. That said, he has previous C&D wins off 64 and 67 and has won at Chester off 68.

Again, like his stablemate above, he isn't particularly well drawn out in stall 7 of 8 as you can see below...

...but that's not to say he can't win from that position, especially over 1m2f where the runners have a bit longer to compensate for the draw. It' not like a 5f sprint where the draw is a massive factor. Don't get me wrong, he'd rather have a low draw, but race positioning/pace is the key here at Beverley and just like the 7.5f race earlier, you definitely want to be up with the pace if not leading...

Thankfully for Bit of a Quirke, he likes to set the pace and not only that, there's very little pace elsewhere in the race and he could very well be afforded a soft, large, early lead. If that was the case, he'd be difficult to peg back, you'd have thought. Here's the top three/four in the race purely from a pace perspective...

..which backs up my assertion that he could well take it on from the very start.

Summary

Quick and easy, I like them both!

Neither are particularly well drawn, of course, but you can't have it all. Both have an excellent profile for the task ahead and although up in weight, both have won off higher marks in the past.

Of the two, I like Bit of a Quirke more and I think there might be a bit of value in his 5/1 odds. Dangers include favourite Casilli and maybe Zeimaam.

Zumurud is a little longer at 6/1, which also looks a decent price. His wide draw in stall 8 might well be helped by the fact that Tangled (currently 5/1) is another I like the look of and will come out of stall 10.

Quick heads-up... I've got some family duties on Thursday and Friday, so it'll be late evening both days before this piece goes live, but don't worry, it WILL be here!

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