Racing Insights

Racing Insights, 29th December 2020

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So we’ve got full pick of all the races on Tuesday. I’m always keen to go through the Southwell handicaps, using Instant Expert to save a lot of time seeing which horses either have a strong record at the course or are bred to go well here. The 4.30 looks an interesting race with a hot favourite potentially setting this up as a nice each way race.

Southwell is such a course specialist’s course due to it’s unique fibresand surface (which is going to be replaced by tapeta in the not too distant future). The first thing to check here is the Instant Expert place data.

We immediately see here, without having to trawl through each runner’s form, that five horses have a strong record of placing here. One runner has placed here more than any other but has a more mediocre place ratio whilst three of the field have run here and failed to place and a further two entrants will be making their fibresand debuts.

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Bay Of Naples and Emneshing both look opposable based on their limited form here so far. The same comment applies to Zeyzoun but it’s worth noting his form here is over 7f and 1m. The step up to 12f doesn’t look an obvious move but it does make his course form over much shorter distances a little less relevant.

In order to get an insight into whether these three runners do have potential on this surface and also whether the two course debutants should be expected to run well we can look at the sire data in Instant Expert.

Exceed and Excel, sire of Bay Of Naples, actually has a very good place record here at Southwell. However the horse was beaten 17 lengths here less than two weeks ago over course and distance (was only a length behind the 2nd in fairness) so we’ll be keeping a line through that runner.

Mastercraftsman, sire of Emneshing, also has a decent place record on Southwell’s fibresand surface but this horse has been beaten an average of over 40 lengths in each of his last five runs yet has only dropped 5lbs in the handicap for some reason so we can happily put a line through him too.

Ebqaa and Violet Princess are the pair without any course experience. Their sires are Cape Cross and Native Ruler respectively and they are amongst the poorer Southwell sires so it would be impossible to back either horse with much confidence regardless of any form they’ve shown elsewhere.

Star Ascending is the horse that has raced here more than any other. In fact the rest of the field have run here a combined 20 times and Star Ascending has run here 24 times! He’s placed here on eleven occasions so has a decent enough strike rate and clearly copes with the surface. He hasn’t got within 5 lengths of the winner on his last five runs and this looks a very competitive race so if he runs to form he’ll finish outside the places.

So this leaves four runners with a 100% place record here (at least one of those will have to sacrifice that record) and one runner who has a 50% place record. Mister Universum is the horse with a 50% place strike rate here but his place came on the hurdles course and this is a completely different test. He was beaten over 10 lengths on his only run on fibresand, albeit over two furlongs further, and he’s another who can probably be safely opposed.

So we’re down to four runners, all of whom have at least placed in all starts here. This race likely revolves around hot favourite Exotic Escape who won by no less than 18 lengths on her only run here, which came here nine days ago over this distance. She appears here carrying a 6lbs penalty and she’ll presumably be much tougher punished when reassessed but it’s difficult to know what to make of that win. It’s worth noting the odds on favourite could only finish 3rd so was almost certainly well below par and the runner up had been well beaten in previous attempts at the trip. She hadn’t shown that kind of form anywhere else and she may just prove a much better horse here but on balance she looks very opposable in this much better race.

Grimthorpe Castle is clearly the very solid choice given he has placed in all seven runs here. He’s been beaten 2.5 lengths and 2.75 lengths on his last two runs here (3rd both times) and has perhaps been nailed now by the handicapper. Interestingly he met Fortultous here 6 weeks ago off level weights and Fortultous came out on top by just a short head. Fortultous is now 4lbs better off and seems extremely likely to confirm that form this time around.

Fortultous was brought down when going well last time out at Wolverhampton and does look very interesting returning here. He was 2nd on his previous run over course and distance, 27 lengths clear of the 3rd, and the winner has since won well again off an 8lb higher mark so that was clearly a strong run too.

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That leaves Lucky Robin who is a very big price at the time of writing. It was no surprise to see him well beaten last time out away from Southwell where his only flat win has been gained, over two miles which he doesn’t really stay. He’s had two runs here, a non staying but respectable 3rd over 2m followed by a narrow win off a 1lb lower mark over 14f. It’s worth noting that the runner up won next time out and then finished 2nd so a 1lb rise for that was very fair. He does need to prove himself as good over this distance of 12f though.

So how will this race be run?

This race looks set to be run at a decent enough clip with reliable front runner Grimthorpe Castle likely to take the field along. Lucky Robin and Fortultous should also be well enough placed at a course that suits those that are ridden positively.

Verdict

Exotic Escape may well win but she’s one of those favourites that could just as easily bomb terribly so she has to be completely taken on, for both win and place. Grimthorpe Castle looks sure to run well enough but also very unlikely to beat Fortultous who should be a length or two too good for his old rival.

Lucky Robin is difficult to weigh up. She should definitely do much better back here than last time at Wolverhampton and she’s the value in the race but she would be a much safer bet at 14f rather than this 12f.

So the two against the field would be Fortultous and Lucky Robin with Grimthorpe Castle considered for possible forecasts or tricasts with the other pair.

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1 reply
  1. Rambler
    Rambler says:

    Hi Sam – Excellent write on the race, providing a wealth of knowledge & stats – many thanks. You are a worthy stand-in for Chris & “The Boss”. Happy New Year to all at GeeGeez

    Bob S.

    Reply

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