No joy for those of us backing Aintree My Dream to make the frame at Fakenham this afternoon, I'm afraid.
Friday's feature of the day is the Horses for Courses report and the free races of the day are...
- 1.25 Navan
- 1.32 Doncaster
- 1.50 Lingfield
- 1.55 Navan
- 7.00 Dundalk
- 7.15 Wolverhampton
And I think the two UK A/W handicaps appeal to me most of those six, so it's off to Surrey for the 1.50 Lingfield...
Not much in the way of decent form of late, but Expert Opinion was a runner-up two starts ago, Hundon made the frame last time out whilst The Pretty Way has been placed twice already this year. She also tops the Geegeez Ratings on 58, with a bit of a gap back to both Kinderdijk and Swooper on 49. Shessweet and Expert Opinion are somewhat detached in the ratings on 18 and 16 respectively.
Half the field are dropping in class here : Expert Opinion, Swooper and Lucky Ava all ran at Class 5 last time out, whereas Shessweet was a Class 4 entrant nine weeks ago.
Expert Opinion made the frame once (two starts ago) from five efforts, but was a well beaten (8 lengths) seventh of eight in a Southwell maiden a fortnight ago and will need to improve to be involved here. On a positive note, his yard are 5 from 13 (38.5% SR) over the last fortnight, but top weight looks a stretch here, even with a 7lb claimer on board. Can't see this one making the frame.
Kinderdijk features well on the Geegeez neural ratings but she's a four-race maiden whose best effort was a three length defeat at Newcastle two starts and two weeks ago. She's quickly turned back out just four days after being beaten by more than eight lengths off today's mark. The hood she wore (to little effect IMO) last time out is retained today. One positive note is the booking of Adam Kirby (9 from 47 = 19.1% SR at Class 6 here since the start of 2020) to take the ride, but I'd say at this stage I don't fancy her for the places.
Swooper hasn't made the frame in any of seven starts to date, but hinted at some ability when producing a career-best effort over this course and distance last time out. The results might say he was fifth at 33/1, but that only tells half a story. He was beaten by less than two lengths at a higher grade than this and now not only drops in class, but is lowered 3lbs by the assessor and another positive jockey booking in the shape of Tom Marquand who is 24 from 137 (17.5% SR) here since the start of 2019 and profitable to follow! Definite chance of a place here.
Lucky Ava A "neither here nor there"-type of maiden who was better than her 4th of 6 in handicap last time out would suggest. She was carried wide off the turn at Wolverhampton and everyone knows the usual outcome when that happens. To her credit, she plugged on and was only beaten by four lengths. Prior to that, she'd been third over the same 5f at Wolverhampton and only beaten by a neck and a nose. Down one class and one pound in the weights, she's one to consider for the frame.
Shessweet looks the worst on form/paper (and grass/sand etc for that matter). Seventh of eleven and beaten by five lengths on handicap debut is no disaster but last of 12 (bt by 15L) and last of 7 (bt by 17L) in two races since suggests she's not very good. Throw in an onut of form jockey and a trainer with a poor course record and you've one to swerve here.
Hundon wore cheekpieces for the first time last time out, resulting in his best effort to date, finishing 3rd of 10 on this track over 6 furlongs a weeks ago. He led until pretty much the 1f pole and now dropped in trip retaining the cheekpieces has to be in the mix late on again, especially off the same mark and with the yard being in good form.
Teddy B makes little appeal on a run of form reading 008987 and not beating many rivals since a runner-up in a 6f seller at Leicester back in September. Last seen just four days ago at Chelmsford when 7th of 11 and beaten by more than 8 lengths off today's mark. Cheekpieces will be applied here in an effort to get more from him, but I doubt they're going to have enough effect to make him competitive here.
The Pretty Way heads the field on form and the Geegeez ratings and looks a progressively mobile type. Two much improved runs already this month after coming back from a 20-week rest to finish third at Wolverhampton, beaten by a length and a quarter (the runner-up won on Tuesday) and then she was only beaten by a head very late on at Kempton over 6f last time out. She runs off effectively the same mark, but drops back in trip and at this point of my analysis looks very much the one to beat.
At this point, I normally move to Instant Expert to tally up the runners' wins and places against expected race conditions, but this field is 0 from 50 between them and have only made the frame on six combined occasions. Teddy B and The Pretty Way have placed twice, whilst Expert Opinion and Hundon have also been in the frame. The place element of IE shows some of this form...
The Pretty Way and Hundon would seem to be the two to take from this graphic and now to draw, pace and pace/draw combined, as they can make or break a horse's chances over this 5f trip at Lingfield and the ideal make-up seems to be low or mid drawn leaders followed by mid-drawn prominence as follows...
There's a clear 50/50 spilt there with low/mid-div, low prominent and high leaders also faring well, so let's overlay the past running styles of our eight runners to see who might be best suited or most inconvenienced...
And I think from that graphic, those in stalls 1 to 4 would seem to have the best of it. I'd expect Hundon to try and get out ahead of stalls 1-3, but I think Swooper might well race more prominently if jockey Tom Marquand sees the four inside of him making a break which would give us five (I don't like Expert Opinion even if he seems well drawn) contesting the race.
Kinderdijk is the weakest of the five and generally fails to find anything in the closing stages, so she's out at this stage, as is Swooper. I just think that he'll have to do too much to keep in touch early on that he'll not have enough "kick" left when needed. I don't think he'll be far off the places, but he's not in my top three.
I'm now down to Hundon, Lucky Ava and The Pretty Way. I don't have much much separating Hundon and Lucky Ava, but the market disagrees pricing them at 7/2 and 11/2 respectively. If I was backing one of them, it'd have to be Lucky Ava because she represents far better value to me, but my actual preference for the race is The Pretty Way who looks over-priced at a readily available 9/2 unless I've got my working wrong.
So, it's The Pretty Way at 9/2 for me with Lucky Ava/Hundon hopefully making the frame : could be a tight one, good luck!