No joy at Musselburgh today other than predicting Caldwell might try and set the pace, which he did to good effect. The ones I liked finished down the field, although my third choice was the runner-up.
I hope for better on Saturday, where we're all assisted by access to the Trainer/Jockey Combo report and our 'free races' are as follows...
- 2.15 Kempton
- 2.25 Navan
- 2.35 Doncaster
- 3.15 Kelso
- 4.55 Doncaster
- 8.30 Wolverhampton
And I think we'll take a look at the Trainer/Jockey Combo report from a 5-year course handicap record...
...to see if any of those three qualifiers might go on to improve the already decent stats. Chronological order works best for me, so we'll start with Duc de Grissay in the 1.35 Kelso...
I won't bore you by regurgitating the stats that I've copied/pasted from the racecard, but they are worth a second glance as they're pretty good. The horse has little experience in similar races to this one and comes here needing some improvement to get back to the kind of form he displayed last season when finishing third on his chasing debut before winning here at Kelso over 2m7.5f on heavy ground. He started this term well enough with a reasonable fourth at Sedgefield and looked like landing the Borders National here in December before falling at the last.
He then took 11 weeks off and was beaten here by 26 lengths last time out in a race of similar quality to this one. He has been eased a pound for his troubles and carries bottom weight here, but is still 7lbs higher than that Borders National run and at first glance, will need to dig deep here to get involved.
Leaders do OK in this type of contest at Kelso, but those who sit in just behind the leaders do best of all, but you certainly don't want to be much further back in the pack than that...
...and sadly Duc de Grissay looks the type who has to be waited with and is highly likely to be too far off the pace to mount a challenge.
Half an hour later, we then see Doyen Breed in the 2.05 Kelso...
Doyen Breed has been running consistently well for some time now, but his form has gone to a new level this season since moving to Sandy Thomson's yard during an eight month lay-off last year. He was only beaten by two lengths on his comeback and handicap debut at Wetherby and then improved to lose by just a neck off 4lb higher at Ayr at the end of November.
He was then rested for another three months before returning to Ayr stepped up in trip to beyond three miles for the first time and defied another 3lb rise to the weights to win by almost three lengths. He'll have support here, I'm sure, but he's up another 6lb and two classes and although he receives weight all round, you'd think that this is going to be tough.
Unfortunately there's not enough verified pace data to form any real judgement on whether his racing style would work here or not, but he does like to race prominently and I'm fairly sure that hold-up horses have fared better here, but that's just my own thoughts with no hard evidence!
Last, but hopefully not least, we have Molineaux in the 5.10 Newbury...
It's seven races and almost 15 months since this 10 yr old last tasted victory but he has been running consistently well in defeat, only going down by three or four lengths in each of his last three outings.
Unfortunately as he keeps going close, he isn't getting much (if any) respite from the assessor and is still a pound higher than that last win and when you consider that he only got home by three quarters of a length that day, you see how tight his mark is.
He has struggled here at Newbury in the past, losing all four races by a combined margin of some 70 lengths, whilst his best work seems reserved for Wincanton, but it should be noted that his trainer Colin Tizzard has provided the winner of this race in two of the last four runnings.
There's not a great deal of pace data to go off, but it seems like the further forward you can be, the better your chances. It's an admittedly small sample size of just six races, but Flaminger looks best placed to lead with Molineaux tucking in behind. Provided he doesn't go off too quickly, he could be very well positioned here, but he does have plenty of form for being caught late on!
1.35 Kelso : Duc de Grissay... Not in the best of form, doesn't look suited by race conditions and won't be close enough to the action to get involved. It looks a tight affair and I could make a good case for four or five of the eight runners, but not Duc de Grissay! It's not a race I'd want to be throwing any money at to be honest, it's just too competitive.
2.05 Kelso : Doyen Breed... Comes here in great form, but up in weight and class again and facing some decent sorts. He has every chance of making the frame, especially if you can get four places, but he's probably too short for me to go E/W on him and I fancy others ahead of him here. Cap du Nord is probably the one to beat, but I envisage sitting this one out too.
5.10 Newbury : Molineaux... Also comes here in good nick, but has a tendency to be not quite good enough off his current mark. I think he has every chance of making the frame in what look another close contest. I don't see him winning though (the fav Ruinous is most likely to do that), but Molineaux is in a tight cluster of five runners going for two places and at 5/1, there's not enough reward to cover my risk. The one that does interest me here is Isaac Wonder who looks no better or worse than Molineaux but would surely be much shorter than 14/1 had he not been off the track for over 7 months. You're essentially gambling on his fitness, but if he's ready, he could make the frame at a nice price.
I was rather hoping to get a bet or two (or even three!) from the Trainer/Jockey Combo report, but sadly that's not the case here. That, however, is no problem, as we maintain that there isn't always a bet to be had and that you should never try to force one.