On Thursdays we open up the Instant Expert tab to all readers for all races, including the daily selection of free races which this Thursday are...
- 1.15 Sedgefield
- 4.30 Dundalk
- 4.55 Haydock
- 5.25 Haydock
- 5.30 Dundalk
- 6.05 Newcastle
The first of the two from Haydock is a Class 2 contest, which is probably the best of the above on paper, but only 5 run and the top two in the market are likely to 2/1 and shorter, so that's not entirely appealing. There is, however, a Racing League fixture on the Tapeta that evening, so we'll tackle the opener from the fixture, the 6.05 Newcastle. It's a 10-runner, Class 3, A/W (Tapeta) handicap for 3yo+ horses over 1m4½f on standard to slow ground. As ever, it's a decent pot at just under £26k and here are the contenders...
Of the ten, only Amir Kabir is winless in his last six outings (Eastern Sheriff & The First King both won six starts ago) and the form horse looks like Winterwatch on placings alone. He is, however, up two classes here, whilst Eastern Sheriff and Carrigillihy both also step up in class. Second Slip is the only course and distance winner, none of the others have won here before, but four of them have won at similar trips elsewhere.
Vindolanda is the oldest at 5, whilst we've five 4yr olds and four 3 yr olds who get a useful 8lb weight allowance. Second Slip has been off track the longest, but only 40 days whilst the bottom two on the card have raced and placed in the last week. We've positive markers (14 30 C1 C5) against six of our ten trainers with Jack Mitchell (Second Slip) and Josephine Gordon (The Whipmaster) showing as having ridden well here in the past.
This actually looks a really competitive contest, so let's start with a quick look at each runner individually...
Second Slip carries top weight here and looks in decent nick having won here over course and distance two starts ago at Class 4 and then finishing as runner-up over C&D LTO after being raised 1llbs and upped to this Class 3 level. He was only beaten by three quarters of a length that day and although raised another pound for that run, should be involved again here.
Eastern Sheriff is winless in five since scoring at Ayr in late 2020, but showed signs of a return to form when third at Thirsk, beaten by just a length and a quarter last time out. He's now just a pound higher than his last win and wouldn't have to improve much to make the frame or better today.
Vindolanda is a respectable 5/15 on turf but hasn't won or placed in any of four A/W runs (4th of 12, 3rd of 7, 8th of 10 and last of 5). The trip isn't an issue, but all her best form has been on form the soft side of good. had this been on the Flat, she'd be a real contender, but I have my doubts about her on tapeta.
Amir Kabir was a decent 3rd in the Racing League fixture at Doncaster four weeks ago behind the re-opposing Moon Daisy and Vindolanda and he's 6lbs and 2lbs better off with that pair here respectively, suggesting he should be able to beat them both this time. They didn't go quickly enough for him that day, so if the gallop is stronger here, he could do very well.
Khatm is six from twelve on the AW, including six wins and a runner-up finish from the last eight. He has won on Tapeta previously and the main concern here will be whether or not he gets the trip, having never raced beyond the 1m2½f he tackled LTO, but he's by Dubawi, whose offspring are 22 from 92 (23.9% SR) over 1m3½f to 1m4½f on Flat/AW this year.
The First King has only raced eight times, but did win on tapeta on his debut in March 2020. he also won on his handicap debut in July 2020 over 1m2f off a mark of 84, but hasn't kicked on since. He's now down to a mark of 78 and steps up to this trip for the first time. On paper he could have a chance, but his recent form is so poor.
Winterwatch has only raced four times to date and didn't run as a 2yo. Third of six and second of six in two novice races before winning a Class 5 maiden over today's tripo, he ten scored again next/last time out on handicap debut at Lingfield over 1m5f. Trip certainly won't be an issue, but he's up 3lbs after only holding on by a neck, he's also up two classes and hasn't raced on tapeta before. Too many doubts for me, I'd say.
Moon Daisy was the winner of that afore-mentioned Doncaster Racing League race four weeks ago, getting up late to beat Vinolanda by a head, but she's up 4lbs and is now worse off at the weights with the runner-up. The trip shouldn't be an issue but she'll need to find a bit more to prevail on her AW debut.
The Whipmaster has been running well lately and has made the frame in back to back handicaps at this level in the last five weeks and has won two of six runs this season. He runs off an unaltered mark from LTO, meaning some improvement would be needed to actually win and he does tackle this longer trip for the first time here, but if he stays, he could well place again.
Carrigillihy won back to back handicaps (C6, 14f & C5, 1m3f) in June/July this year taking his mark from a workable 65 to a difficult 74 and he has been 5th of 7, 3rd of 5 and last of 2 since. He still races off 74 here, but steps up in class for just his second AW outing, having been beaten by more than 30 lengths when last home of 13 on his previous effort back in April.
I still think it's a very competitive race, where you could make a case for most of these and at present, there's only two I'm not keen on : The First King and Carrigillihy.
Feature of the day is, of course, Instant Expert, so it'd be rude not to take a look at relevant form...
On overall form, there are bits and pieces of green dotted about with quite a few distance wins. We've not had many come to Newcastle before and the standout line of colour sadly, is Amir Kabir's line of red.
We then narrow the above down to AW handicap form, which obviously reduces the sample size...
...and purely based on the green is good approach, the numbers speak for them selves. There's not much to work on from either graphic really, so I'm going to quickly look at place form both generally...
...where Second Slip catches the eye and then just AW handicap form...
...which definitely points towards Second Slip making the frame here. He's drawn in stall 3 with just Amir Kabir and Moon Daisy inside him, but they're not the best places to be...
...as stalls 8 & 9 fare best from a win perspective and stalls 7 & 8 are best for placers, but you can make the frame from anywhere based on the above. Our pace draw heat map suggests that...
...the three low-drawn horses I mentioned are advised to get out quickly and lead, whilst those drawn in the favoured 8 & 9 stalls would be better off waited with. We log the running styles of all runners at geegeez, so we know how they have tended to run and when we combine their usual running style with where they've been drawn here, we can slot them onto that heatmap above quite easily, as follows...
None of the low drawn horses have shown tendencies to lead and none of the higher drawn favoured stalls are occupied by hold up horses, suggesting that the winner might come down the middle, where Eastern Sheriff and The First King look best positioned, but the latter's current pace score of 2.75 is actually 3.50 in his last two runs, so he might actually sit further to the right on that graphic and have less chance.
You can make a case for several of these, but I think the place to be is from that centre of the draw and the two I like there are...
Eastern Sheriff based on pace/draw, recent form and a dropping handicap mark
Khatm who raced more prominently when on better form and I suspect he might get closer to the pace here, his AW record is excellent and his breeding suggests he'll get the trip even if he hasn't tackled it yet.
To complete by 3 v the field, I can't ignore the Instant Expert feature of the day and take Second Slip from there. So, those are the three I like best here, but they could very easily all fail to make the frame, it promises to be a really good race. Of my three, there's very little between them, but I think I'd want Eastern Sheriff to beat Second Slip with Khatm settling for bronze.
The market disagrees, but they're not always right, are they? They have my trio at 11/1, 3/1 fav and 14/1, so it's E/W bets on Eastern Sheriff & Khatm for me here.