This will be my last Racing Insights column for a while, Chris will be welcomed back into the hot seat tomorrow. I think I’ve flagged up some decent angles in the past couple of weeks but my personal judgement on the most interesting selections to back from those angles has largely been a bit off. Hopefully I can give a good final steer in Thursday’s race of choice. My thoughts on one of the big Saturday races each week will continue to be published each Friday afternoon.
Thursday’s free feature of the day is Instant Expert for ALL races. That’s one of the most popular features of Geegeez Gold, free to use for every race on Thursday for anyone who is a registered free user of Geegeez.
Instant Expert is a massive time saver which allows the user to check and compare each horse’s, trainer’s, jockey’s and sire’s suitability to key race conditions in just a few seconds.
The free races for free registered users on Thursday are:
Thursday’s meeting at Newcastle is the first day of the Racing League. This event has already divided the racing community somewhat but with good prize money on offer and square 12 runner fields they could make for some decent betting opportunities. With that in mind we’ll see what the 6.55 has to offer. This is a 6f, class 3 handicap open to 3yo+.
With many races run over course and distance in similar conditions in recent years we have a decent sample of data to work with so let’s take a look at some draw and pace data before doing any form analysis.
The first graph shows PRB3 data to give an overview of what should be the favoured parts of the draw. Although higher numbers have seemingly performed more positively than low numbers over this course and distance, it seems that being drawn very high isn’t ideal, perhaps increasing the chances of being trapped on the rail. Or maybe the surface is just at its fastest just off the rail. Either way the sweet spot seems to be from about 6 or 7 to 11.
In terms of pace, the draw and pace combination heat map suggests that those drawn higher are seen to best effect played late but the runners that are drawn low to middle are best off going forward. Perhaps that allows them to get closer to the rail then being either prominent or racing in mid division. The fact that held up from middle has a good PRB of 0.55 again backs that up, it’s probably not difficult to get close to the rail from there.
The pace map for this race tells us that there are two main pace angles, one drawn low (Imperial Force) and one drawn high (Lipsink). The likes of Strike Red, Walls Of Kano, Papa Stour and Mohareb could find themselves in the poorest position (furthest from the near side rail) whilst Cash Machine, Musicality and Ivatheengine will potentially enjoy the most advantageous early positions.
Now for the runners.
Has shown very little in three starts for Robert Cowell and his chances seem to largely depend on a wind op and first time tongue tie doing the trick. Nice enough draw and one to watch in the market but pretty much impossible to back on his most recent form.
Showed early promise for Roger Varian last season but form tailed off towards the end of the season. His seasonal debut was a bit more like it, whilst not good enough to win this, but he’s again gone backwards since and connections now reach for first time cheekpieces. He’s another that is worth a check in the betting but is probably impossible to back on recent form.
All weather specialist who won last time out at Lingfield off a mark of 84. Now up to 86 but that’s a mark he’s defied in the past. He’s done most of his winning at Lingfield but has run well enough in defeat in two attempts at this venue. He’s entitled to run his race but he might be a little too high in the weights to win from a low draw knowing his run style.
Another all weather specialist and one that has dropped to a nice enough mark having been largely out or form this year. He’s 2lbs lower than his last win and returned to form last time out in first time cheekpieces when a narrowly beaten third. He made the running that day and may be an additional pace option here. That effort did come at Chelmsford, a course that suits his run style very well, and he might be a little more vulnerable here at a venue and over a trip where he has never won.
Won three in a row last summer and then had his season cut short. He’s only managed three runs in the past year (all since April) and he was below par in all of those. Connections have pinned their hopes of wind surgery in a bid to get him back to sorts and he’d be very much of interest if he is but he’s another one of these that can’t really be backed unless there is significant market support suggesting a return to form is on the cards.
It's fair to say he’s better on artificial surfaces than turf and has a split handicap mark to prove it. He was successful over this trip at Dundalk in March and after some largely lacklustre efforts on turf he was then 2nd recently in a 7f claimer. He didn’t run up to his mark that day though and he’s probably not well handicapped on any surface currently.
Another who is better on the all weather but even on artificial surfaces he hasn’t been running to form in recent months, beaten 6 lengths at Lingfield two starts ago in February. It’s difficult to weigh up his turf return in June given he rarely runs well on the green stuff but either way he is still 2lbs higher than his last win which came at Lingfield in November. He has a bit of improving to do and will need the return of the visor to spark of form revival.
Likely to be amongst the favourites for this given he’s a lightly raced 3yo who won by 2 lengths last time out. That form hasn’t really worked out and he’s 6lbs higher here meaning he needs to improve again but there is every chance he does that. This is a better race than he’s previously contested and he doesn’t seem particularly well drawn so he may needs to be well ahead of his new mark to win this. One of his best pieces of form was his racecourse debut when 4th to some smart types and that was his only start on an artificial surface (came here) so he does have potential to improve switching back to this surface.
Another unexposed 3yo and he’ll be making his handicap debut here after just three starts, giving us a bit of guesswork to do. On debut he was a length behind now 90 rated Popmaster, in receipt of 7lbs, so potentially ran to a mark around 80 that day. That’s certainly not bad for a racecourse debut. He seemed to run to an even better level when winning a decent Chelmsford maiden next time out, doing well to come from off the pace when the others involved in the finish were ridden much more prominently.
Then after a 60 day break he tried to give weight to some promising types in a 7f novice at Wolverhampton. He was 2nd, beaten just half a length giving 7lbs to Wizard D’Amour who ran at least to his mark of 77 on his next start. He probably didn’t improve for the step up to 7f that day but did look to stay the trip. The handicapper has probably got things about right giving him a mark of 82 but he’s capable of improving again beyond that mark given he’s had just three runs and he’s well enough drawn here. Laura Pearson’s 5lb claim could end up being the difference maker.
Only seven runs so far, six of which have come on turf and one of which has come on the all weather. It’s worth noting that he’s so far unbeaten on artificial surfaces. He probably didn’t run above his current mark on that one all weather start though so it’s worth treating him as if he’s just as good on turf. He hasn’t been the most consistent but won a weak Ripon handicap over this distance in June and was 2nd at Haydock last time out off a 2lb lower mark, seemingly with no excuses. Could run okay again but it’s not clear where the improvement is going to come from to win a better race here.
Walls Of Kano
Had just the four runs and was well backed when winning a novice stakes on his second racecourse visit in May. He was well beaten carrying a penalty next time and didn’t improve dropped to this trip in handicap company next time out. It seems likely he’s badly handicapped but it’s not out of the question that he’s better than he’s shown to date. Might have the worst of the draw.
Started the season rated 93 and ran okay in a first time visor on seasonal debut here trying to give Haveagomecca (now rated 80) 12lbs, going down by less than a length. Connections have largely kept him out of handicap company and he’s been expensive to follow and a bit regressive since. He bumped into a now 95 rated rival in a Yarmouth maiden and was trying to give that horse 3lbs on that day but he was beaten almost 7 lengths so you can’t draw too many positives from that effort.
It's a stretch to suggest he’s going to bounce back to anything like his initial mark of 95 but he seemed to run much better than his current mark of 74 when last here and is capable of being in the thick of things. He’s not very well drawn (but could nullify that by going forward) and doesn’t always look the most straight forward so a place might be on the cards but a win looks unlikely.
Not an easy puzzle to solve. The likes of Lipsink, Musicality and Ivatheengine all have at least one factor that could help them bounce back to form but they are easy to oppose on recent form.
Mohareb is one of the more solid contenders and he would have made more appeal with a higher draw but he’s only fairly handicapped now and looks more likely to find a couple too good.
Papa Stour is probably a little better at Chelmsford so the one who appeals most is Cash Machine. He’s open to the most improvement out of these and given he has yet to run in a handicap there is more scope for him to be ahead of his mark than those who have already shown their hands. He’s seemingly got pretty much everything in his favour, has run to a consistent level of form on all three starts and seems sure to go well. He won’t be a huge price but could have better claims than the fellow market fancy Strike Red.