Racing Insights

Racing Insights, 27th September 2021

The Pace tab on our racecards helps to inform how a race will be run even before the horses have left the starting stalls and it is a vital weapon in any bettor's armoury. So much so, that every Sunday & Monday, we make this GOLD feature freely available to ALL readers for ALL races, including our 'races of the day'. These are a group of races that we open up to everyone on a daily basis and for Monday, they will be...

  • 2.05 Newton Abbot
  • 2.15 Hamilton
  • 2.30 Roscommon
  • 3.20 Hamilton
  • 4.55 Newcastle

And of those five, the one I'll be concentrating upon today is the 3.20 Hamilton, which is a 9-runner, Class 5, 3yo+, Flat handicap worth £2,862. The trip is 1m½f on Good to Soft ground and here are the runners with my Report Angle stats...

Only Gainsbourg, Mikmak and Wots The Wifi Code have a win in their recent form line, but the letter two of that trio are up in class here, whilst Caballero drops down from Class 4. Both Gainsbourg and Flying Moon are former course and distance winners, whilst Jackhammer, Al Erayg, Mikmak and Wots The Wifi Code have won at similar trips to this one. All bar Gainsbourg (46d) and Wots The Wifi Code (32d) have been seen in the last 15 days and the handicapper suggests that End Zone is some 17lbs better than Flying Moon.

End Zone has a win and a place at Carlisle already this season and ran well at Beverley two starts ago to finish 4th of 10 in a Class 4 handicap. His 7th of 10 last time out doesn't do him justice, as he was cramped for room entering the final furlong and had to be switched outside, yrt still only lost by 2.25 lengths in a tight finish. Has won at a higher grade on soft ground and if avoiding trouble here, could go well again off 1lb lower than that Carlisle win.

Jackhammer hasn't won for 27 months, but has actually only raced eight times in that period. He was a runner-up on his last 2020 run and on both of his first two runs this season, but hasn't kicked on since, yet his stablemates have been running well recently.

Al Erayg wouldn't be an obvious winner here, having been beaten in each of his last thirteen runs since winning a soft ground, 1m, Class 4 hcp at Redcar almost a year ago. He did, however, show signs of a return to form with a respectable effort at Ayr last time out and now coming to a track where his trainer, jockey and trainer/jockey combined all have good records, he could surprise a few off a career-low mark.

Gainsbourg never raced as a 2 yr old and as such is now only six races into his career, but did win here over course and distance two starts ago in a Class 5 Novices race. He then only beat one horse home in a 7-runner handicap at Beverley last month and will need to improve upon that after nearly 7 weeks rest.

Mikmak has been around the block a few times and will race for the 65th time in this one. He's a respectable (for this grade) 6 from 55 on turf, but off a mark of 64 is probably in the assessor's grip. He finished 121 inside 8 days in early August off marks of 60, 61 and 61, but has since been 8th of 10 off 65 and 10th of 13 LTO off 64, so still needs some slack off the handicapper.

Caballero is another who'd be a surprise winner based on his run of 24 defeats since landing a handicap nursery at Newmarket almost three years ago during a very good 2yo season (2 wins, 3 places from 8). Since then his mark has dropped from 87 to today's 60. He was a runner-up in a soft ground Class 4 seller here over course and distance last time out, suggesting he might be ready to go one better down in class.

Engles Rock is also on a long losing run (20 races since early June 2019) and has finished fourth in each of her last four starts. Cheekpieces are re-applied here, but I'd suggest that if she was to finish fourth here, she'd have done well.

Wots The Wifi Code won at Ripon last month (C6, 1m), but was then a beaten favourite here over course and distance (C6) at even money and then a beaten fav (11.5 lengths off the pace) in another Class 6 hcp at Carlisle LTO. Down a pound but with no 5lb claimer, this will be very tough up in class.

Flying Moon won this race last year, but the form hasn't really worked out and they were a poor bunch if truth be told. He also won again straight after the race here (C6, 1m, Ayr) and repeated that win in June of this year but has struggled since. Showed some signs here of a recovery over C&D LTO when third of six and although down another 2lbs, has work to do.

This group of horses have a combined win strike rate of just 9.6% and a place record of 31.5% after 26 wins and 59 further places from their 270 total starts, so we're not dealing with prolific runners here, nor are we dealing with horses who used to be good but have slipped down the handicap. If we're honest, these are poor horses, but some of them might relish today's conditions and to quickly highlight if that's the case, we have our Instant Expert tab...

Not much to go of from a win perspective, but Flying Moon would appear to be the one to beat on this graphic alone. As for place form...

...that tells us a bit more about who has run reasonably well in forecasted conditions.

Other than those drawn higher than stall 8 in similar 8-10 runner handicaps performing badly here, I wouldn't say that there's a strong draw bias at this course and distance...

...and if you look at the PRB figures, then there's an argument that stalls 5 to 8 might be the worst place to be...

The PACE tab is today's feature and that shows us how all nine runners have raced in their last four outings, but before we look at that, let's see what type of pace profile has fared best on those races we go the draw stats for...

With an IV of 0.98, prominent runners almost win as often as expected, but the inference is clear here, leaders win most often and they're also the ones making the frame. Over half of the leading placers go on to win, which is easily the best conversion rate of the four running styles, so all we need is a front runner here.

Sadly, that's where it gets more difficult, as 4 = led and 1= held-up and our runners here are far more inclined to run from off the pace than they are to set it...

Sure, Jackhammer, Gainsbourg, Caballero and Flying Moon have led once in their last four, but there's no consistency from any of the nine, save possibly Al Erayg and Mikmak at a push. When we combine pace and draw to show the optimum combination...

...we are told that low draws are better, leading is the best approach and that five combos are very markedly favoured. When we overlay our runners on to that heat map... draw order, based on their last three runs, we see that there's no real pace at all. Gainsbourg looks likeliest to take it on from a poor draw and the chances are that we'll get a falsely run race.


Based on how these have run recently, changes in weight/mark, relevant form via Instant Expert and the pace/draw stats, I think I'm going to take a fairly obvious runner with two possible surprises as my way in to possibly having a bet here. So, alphabetically, I'll start with...

  • Al Erayg, who has a couple of recent prominent runs, is drawn in 9 which scores well on PRB and comes here on a career-low mark for a yard & trainer that have done well individually and combined at this track.
  • Caballero ran really well here over course and distance on soft ground last time out and now drops in class, he has pace scores of 4 and 3 in two of his last three starts and is also on a career-low mark.
  • Flying Moon, who won this race last year off a pound higher than here and looked like coming back into a bit of form last time out. He gets weight from all his rivals, runs well for today's jockey and September seems to be his favourite month. It was admittedly a poor race last year, but tell me this is any better?

Of the three last year's winner ticks more boxes and as he's the longest priced of the trio, I'm siding with Flying Moon at 7/1 with Hills, the only market open at 4pm. I've not much between the 6/1 Al Erayg and the 5/1 Caballero, but I'd probably have them that way around, but neither interest me from an E/W perspective at those prices.

I think there's value in Flying Moon's price, but if you wanted a longer priced pick, then Jackhammer (the current 11/1 outsider) might be the one to outrun his odds.



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