Racing Insights

Racing Insights, 29th June 2021

A nice 9/2 winner and near 8/1 forecast this afternoon as The Composeur beat the fav Boughtbeforelunch by 4.5 lengths in a race littered with jumping errors. It wasn't a pretty affair, but we've managed to bank a few quid for future use, starting on Tuesday, where 'feature of the day' is The Shortlist, a simple and usually brief report highlighting those horses with a largely ‘green’ profile in the Instant Expert Report each day.

In addition to a daily free feature, we also open up the cards of a few races to all readers and for Tuesday, those free races are...

  • 2.45 Hamilton
  • 3.50 Hamilton
  • 5.10 Roscommon
  • 6.30 Stratford

...and whilst I'm tempted after today's success to stick with the jumpers, that second race at Hamilton is not only the best of the four free races, but it also features the top ranked qualifier on Tuesday's Shortlist report...

All of which means we're tackling the 3.50 Hamilton, a 10-runner, Class 2, 3yo+, Flat Handicap over 1m½f on Good ground and these are the contenders aiming to land the top prize of £15,462...

FORM : Only Hortzadar & Just Hiss are winless in their last six, whilst both Chichester & Headingley won LTO.

CLASS : Only Stunning Beauty & Hortzadar ran at Class 2 LTO, Poets Dawn steps up one class here, whilst the other seven all ran at Class 4 LTO.

COURSE/DISTANCE : All bar Fred have won at trips similar to today with Howser Black & Jump The Gun the only previous course (and CD) winners.

DAYS RESTED : All have raced in the past five weeks, so excuses about needing a run. Chichester, Fred, Howzer Black & Just Hiss all raced in the past week.

Stunning Beauty was 2 from 2 in the UK last year, but kicked off 2021 with two heavy defeats at Meydan. She then took some time off ahead of a winning return to UK racing, getting home by a neck on her Class 2 debut, but showed nothing last time out, when she pretty refused to run at Ascot after the hood was taken off quite late yard & rider seem in good nick...

Hortzadar won here at Hamilton last July on his only previous visit to this track, but was disqualified after his jockey weighed in light, but he did then land back to back Class 2 handicaps at Ripon and Goodwood in Aug/Sept. He hasn't win since, but was a good second at Epsom earlier this month and depsite not getting a look in for the Royal Hunt Cup last time out, remains of interest here.

Chichester was a narrowly beaten runner-up on his last run of 2020 prior to changing yards and since the switch, has 2 wins and 2 places from 6 in 2021. He was third of fourteen at this grade at Redcar last month off a mark of 85 and won off that same mark at Carlisle in a 15-runner contest last week. Up two classes and five pounds here, but clearly in good heart/form, as is his yard...

Poets Dawn is also having a decent season so far. Beaten by 11 lengths in a season pipe-opener at Redcar in early April, he has two wins and a runner-up finish (beaten by 0.75L LTO) from four starts since. He remains on a career-high mark of 86 which is 3lbs higher than his last win and this step up in class makes life tough today.

Fred is a decent enough Class 4 handicapper and has already raced nine times this year, winning three of them, but hasn't competed at this level for almost two years and now steps up two classes off a mark 3lbs higher than his highest winning mark. This should be far too tough for him.

Amaysmont is probably better on the A/W, as his sole Flat win from eleven attempts came on debut back in August 2019 and his turf record since then is patchy at 2067583052. He was 5th of 6 at Haydock, beaten by just over 5 lengths in April and a runner-up at Musselburgh last time out, which is encouraging, but he's up two classes and two pounds for that run, which probably reduces his chances greatly, although...

Howzer Black is a consistent sort if you're looking for a horse to make the frame in Class 3 to 5 races, where he has done so on 19 of 42 (4.24%) of occasions, but sadly he has finished 85605 in his five efforts at this grade and was beaten by 8 lengths when 9th of 15 in a Class 4 handicap at Carlisle six days ago, which doesn't suggest he's suddenly winning here off the same mark, but in his defence...

Jump The Gun is just one of two former course and distance winners in the field and he achieved the feat last time out, just 13 days ago, when landing a Class 4 contest by 3.5 lengths. The third-placed horse was beaten by almost six lengths, but has since reappeared to also win at this track & trip, which inspires some hope. However, all this took place two classes lower than today's contest and with Jump The Gun some 8lbs higher here, others offer much more appeal, even though...

Just Hiss is a five-time winner, but I'd say that his best days are firmly behind him. He has won just one of his last seventeen races over the past 32 months and has just one win and one place from eleven starts since the start of the 2020 campaign. He's now up two classes after being beaten by over five lengths off today's mark LTO and he hasn't even got his 7lb claim from that day to help here. Not for me, thank you.

Headingley is at the foot of the weights courtesy of his 10lb weight for age allowance here and whilst probably not good enough to land a blow here will be able to compete at least. He has only raced six times so far and landed a pair of back to back Class 5 novice contests either side of a 172-day winter break and has made the frame in two of his three handicap outings so far. He was, however, heavily beaten on his only effort at this grade, which suggests he's not quite there just yet.

*

To be honest with you, folks, this isn't a good race for a Class 2 contest. It'll be competitive for the minor money between a bunch of runners who don't look good enough to racer at Class 2, but it really should be a two or three-horse race here. I'm thinking that alphabetically I like Chichester, Hortzadar and Stunning Beauty from what I've read/written so far, but maybe the other racecard tools will sway me, starting with an overview of collateral form via Instant Expert..

I've sorted them by Class win percentage here, as I know that many of these haven't proven themselves in this grade yet. Admittedly they've not tackled Class 2 racing too often generally, but Just Hiss' 1/19 record is abject, I'm afraid, even if he has placed in 5 of the 18 defeats. Poet's Dawn & Howzer Black have consistently failed on good ground and the latter is some 7lbs higher than his last win, a burden only "bettered" by the extra 8lbs carried by Jump The Gun. I really don't think any of those four will be leaping into my considerations just yet!

Let's look at the draw...

If we say that stall 10 has 3 wins from 23 (13.04%) and 6 places from 23 (26.08%), then you'd be excused for thinking the draw wasn't of massive importance here and that it was open to interpretation. I think if I had to pick a sector of the draw I'd want my horse in, purely based on the above, then I'd probably want a 2 to 7 berthing, based on the place percentages and with the horses I originally liked occupying 2, 3 and 5, I'm still quite happy, but it's all well and good having a decent draw...

..using it to its full potential is another thing and that's where race positioning aka pace comes in and for similar events to this one...

...and the inference here is somewhat clearer. Leaders tend to get caught, but have often built enough enough of a gap on the pack to hold on for a place. Prominent racers fare really badly and fail to catch leaders and are susceptible to the faster finishing mid-division horses who go on to win twice as often as you'd expect, whilst hold up horses do little better than the prominent ones.

When we add those pace figures to the draw stats, we quickly find out that irrespective of draw, mid-division is the place to sit and racing prominently is a no-no. Hold-up horses really need a low draw and vice versa, whilst the exact opposite applies to high drawn runners, who need to lead etc...

As always, we 've got today's draw to hand and we know how these runners normally race, so we can apply the heatmap to this contest as follows...

I think we might have a bit of a 'burn up' here with Poets Dawn setting the pace from stall 4, but those in boxes 7 to 10 look likely to chase him, as might Stunning Beauty. That could leave up to half a dozen of them battling for the lead, making them susceptible to the likes of Chichester, Hortzadar and Amaysmont who seem to have the best pace/draw make-up here.

Summary

I've already said a couple of times that I'm leaning towards Chichester, Hortzadar and Stunning Beauty for this one and nothing has really popped up to change my mind. I'm worried that Stunning Beauty will do too much too soon and as she's conceding weight to all bar Hortzadar, I think such tactics will cost her, so she's my third pick.

As for the winner, I don't think there's much between the air I've got left, but Hortzadar's experience at this level tips the balance for me. This means my top three are also the top three in the weights, which rarely happens, but do the bookies agree?

To an extent, yes, but not enitrely. Hortzadar is fifth favourite here at 17/2 (Hills) and I'm more than happy to take that. You could even hedge the bet and go E/W at those odds. Chichester is 11/2 third fav with Hills, whilst Stunning Beauty is the current market leader at 5/2 (Bet365) or 11/4 (Hills), but it's Hortzadar for me.

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