My 1-2 at Leicester on Tuesday had to settle for 2nd and 3rd, as the talented Spirit of Bermuda finally behaved herself and go on with the job in hand. I had said this about her..."has ability, but also has some temperament issues..." I highlighted that she'd won a Class 2 previously and she was bang at it today, straight out of the stalls and away, hitting the front with a furlong to run and then proved unstoppable. Close but no cigar.
Wednesday's feature of the day is the Trainer Stats report, whilst our free races will be...
- 3.40 Nottingham
- 4.20 Wexford
- 5.10 Kempton
- 6.00 Curragh
- 7.40 Curragh
- 8.30 Ripon
The first of that list is the best of the UK races, so today's piece will focus on the 3.40 Nottingham, an 8-runner, Class 4, 3yo Flat handicap over 1m½f on good ground. The prize is £4,347 and here are the contenders...
This field has just 31 prior runs between them, but all bar the bottom two on the card (who are a combined 0 from 11) have won at least once already. Sevenal and Qaasid both won last time out. They are both making a handicap debut here, as is George Morland, whilst this will be a second handicap start for Ilzza'eem and Dark Company, who drops down a class to run here, but Sevenal, Qaasid, George Morland all move up a grade.
It's 30 weeks or so since Qaasid and Dark Company were last seen, but the rest of field have raced in the past 2 to 6 weeks, as of today (Tuesday). We have a 10lb weight spread according to the assessor and our SR ratings suggest a tight affair between Dark Company and Siam Fox.
The handlers of Ilza'eem, Qaasid, Bertie's Wish ad Dark Company all have positive track profiles, as do the jockeys of Ilza'eem and Siam Fox. From a recent form perspective, Qaasid's trainer and the jockeys on Sevenal, Qaasid, Bertie's Wish and Siam Fox are of note.
Qaasid has never raced on turf, which is why he has no SR figure.
Ilza'eem was a runner-up on his first two starts. both over 7f before winning at Redcar over a mile in early April. He then made his handicap bow at Wolverhampton at Class 3 off a mark of 89 and was last home of seven over today's trip. That was 15 days before this race and although he's down in class and weight (-2lbs), he'll need to come on for that run now back on turf.
Sevenal was a decent runner-up over 7f on heavy ground on his only 2yo start and was then beaten by 5 lengths over 1m2f on his return from 5 months off the track, but followed up with a battling win over this trip a month ago. He now wears cheekpieces for the first time and looks to have a decent chance off an opening mark of 84.
Qaasid was well beaten on debut last August and was a modest 3rd of 9 a month later, both over 7f at Class 5. He then stepped up to a mile to win another Class 5 contest at Kempton. On that run, you'd think he'd have a good chance here, but he's up in class, he hasn't raced on turf before and hasn't been seen for 30 weeks. I don't think his mark gives him much room for error either.
George Morland is still very unexposed after just two starts that saw him win on debut (C5, 7f) at Kempton and then was narrowly beaten after a better effort on his turf debut at Salisbury, also at C5, 7f. Up in trip and class here, but he already looks better than an opening mark of 82 and could go well here.
Bertie's Wish is probably better than 9th of 12 last time out would suggest on his second handicap run. He won a maiden (C6, 7f) on his third start and then also won on handicap debut at this class/trip off a mark of 76. He either didn't handle the extra 5lbs or the softer ground last time out, but goes off the same mark on better ground here, so you'd expect him to be nearer this time.
Dark Company was 3rd of 9 on debut over 6f on soft ground (Pontefract, C5), but won a 7f novice event next time out prior to finishing 3rd of 8 in a Nursery at Wolverhampton (7f) at this level. He runs off the same mark here (79), but has a seven month lay-off and 1.5f further to deal with here and his two best runs were on the A/W. Place material, though.
Siam Fox is 0 from 5 so far and after starting out well finishing 223 in Novice contests seemed to lose his way in two handicap races 180 days apart, beaten by 9L and 8L at this class/trip. Eased 2lbs but I'm not sure that's enough.
Invincibly is now 0 from 6, but has made the frame in three of his four starts on the Flat and was only half a length behind the winner, Maison de York at Redcar last time out and that one has turned out and won again since off a mark of 76. Invincibly runs here off 77 and I'm just a little concerned that the 2lb rise is too much, as I don't think he's as good as the one he lost to LTO.
Just 31 combined runs between this group and many of those have been on the A/W, but relevant Flat form looks like this...
Unsurprisingly, there's not that much to go on there and the short summaries of each runner are probably more informative at the moment, even if they do lean on my own personal opinions slightly.
The draw stats here suggest a slight benefit for mid-drawn horses for win purposes, but the higher drawn runners make the frame more often, but to be honest, that's not screaming draw bias to me...
...and when we look at individual stalls, treating 8&9 as one unit, of course...
...stalls 3 & 5 don't look great but with those in 2, 4 and 6 doing well enough, I'm happy to count those as anomalies and say there's no real draw bias here.
As for pace, again there's no clear ideal place to race. Prominent runners just about fare best, but the message from Nottingham is don't dwell! Hold up horses have a really poor record...
And with three of the four run style all performing better than par and there being no real draw bias, it's therefore unsurprising that the pace/draw heatmap has a huge swathe of green across it...
The low leader figure is interesting and that might be due to the tightness of the final bend causing those on the rail to check their stride for a moment to not hit the apex too quickly. Such a large swathe of green would say that plenty of runners in any given race would stand a decent chance of winning and that definitely seems to be the case here, based on their last couple of runs...
Of the eight, only George Morland and Dark Company are close to the red zones and in the case of the latter, that's because stall 3 is a low draw in a 9-runner contest. We've only 8 runners, so he's technically mid-drawn in dark green and arguably best drawn of all based on his race positioning.
As with many 3yo contests with inexperienced/unexposed sorts, another factor kicks in : gut feeling. And based upon what I wrote about each runner and the limited data from the tools, I think I want George Morland and Sevenal as my first two home. The former has run well on both occasions and looks favourably treated off a mark of 82, whilst Sevenal impressed by winning gamely last time out and is also probably better than 84.
So, for me it's the 6/1 George Morland to narrowly beat the 5/2 fav Sevenal.
As for third, I see it being very tight between Dark Company, Ilza'eem and even Qaasid/Bertie's Wish. I wouldn't be surprised if they all finished in a heap, but long layoff aside it'd be Dark Company for me at 9/1. He's just about E/W price there, but that's a personal choice, of course.