The Shortlist report is Tuesday's Geegeez free feature open to ALL readers, irrespective of subscription status, as are the following 'races of the day'...
- 2.50 Fakenham
- 3.00 Warwick
- 6.40 Wolverhampton
- 7.10 Wolverhampton
If I'm entirely honest, none of the four races above really float my boat. The A/W races have just seven runners between them, whilst only five are declared at Fakenham. There's not much of interest to me on the Shortlist, so Hobson's Choice sends us to the 3.00 Warwick.
On paper, it initially looks like being a 2-horse race with a fairly short-priced fav, but with bookies paying 3 or even 4 places, we might just find ourselves a decent priced E/W bet from this 12-runner, Class 5, Novices Handicap Hurdle over 3m2f on Good ground, which looks like this...
Everything for You is the only one to have last time out and carries a 7lb penalty for that, whilst two others (One For Dunstan & Pour Une Raison) have at least won one of their last handful of outings under Rules (Wind Tor's win was in a PTP). The afore-mentioned Wind Tor is a handicap debutant here, as is Bold Pimpernel, whilst Teenage Dirtbag is having a second bite at the handicap cherry today after not being humiliated last time out.
Three of the horses I've already mentioned (Everything For You, Wind Tor and Bold Pimpernel) are dropping down from Class 4, whilst Gold Clermont's trainer is the only one with a positive stat icon to his name. Golden Glory heads the Geegeez ratings on 120 ahead of Pour Une Raison and Everything For You on 110 and 109 respectively.
I said that I though it looked like a 2-horse race on paper and I was thinking of Everything For You and Gold Clermont, but let's take a look at all the runners to see if (a) that proves to be the case and (b) if we can find a decent-priced E/W bet or two, starting with...
Everything For You, the likely fairly short-priced fav was second in a bumper three starts ago and looked a different/better horse upped massively in trip to 3m1.5f last time out. he stayed on strongly and despite some jumping errors, was a winner by 26 lengths. This is tougher bearing a 7lb penalty but he does drop in class and if attacking the race as he did last week, he'll be tough to catch/beat. Jockey is 6/28 over the last 30 days including, 4/14 for today's trainer, for whom he is 15/62 over the last year.
Wind Tor makes a handicap debut after two fairly heavy defeats (30L & 35L) since a decent third on debut over 3m on heavy ground at Chepstow almost eight weeks ago. She might well fare better in handicap company in due course, as daughters of Midnight Legend tend to do as they mature, but an opening mark of 102 looks stiff, but she does at least drop in class here.
Gold Clermont might well have won a 3m1.5f handicap on heavy ground at Ayr 17 days ago, but for an error two out that caused her to be headed before the last hurdle. She came out of the last two lengths down, but rallied to within a neck of the winner who has since come within a neck of winning again. Gold Clermont was 23 lengths clear of the rest of the pack that day at Ayr and that's probably why she's up 7lbs for the run. Her yard fare really well with stayers and her stablemates are 8 from 27 here at Warwick since the start of 2018 including 3 from 8 beyond 3 miles.
Golden Glory heads the Geegeez ratings and I bow to Dr Peter May's superior knowledge on this score, as I can't personally see how. Her best effort in this grade was a year ago when third at Hereford, beaten by just over 5 lengths in a maiden, but went down by 24 lengths in this class last time out. Prior to that, she was only 11 lengths off the pace at a higher grade, but even a 3lb easing of her mark shouldn't put her close today.
One For Dunstan got off the mark in a Class 4 hurdle over 3m1.5f at Plumpton in mid-January on soft ground and was then a reasonable third over the same course and distance at the start of this month. He had dropped down to Class 5 for that run, but was up in weight by 7lbs resulting in a 16 length defeat. That, however, was a full handicap rather than a novice contest he tackles here and going off the same mark again, he has to be considered for the places.
First Du Charmil looked like he had some promise back in 2017, but a series of lengthy layoffs have hindered his progress to the extent that he has only raced four times since mid-January 2018, failing to finish twice and he hs never travelled further than 2m5.5f. Even the presence of Harry Skelton in the saddle won't be enough to carry him home here.
Pour Une Raison is still relatively unexposed after just six handicap starts and was a winner over 2m6f on soft ground just over four months ago and was a respectable third in a Class 4 contest last month. He'll need to be better than when beaten by 30 lengths last time out, but he's down in weight here, sports a visor for the first time and this looks a weaker contest.
Jour A La Plage hasn't made the frame in seven career starts to date and I expect that to become 0 from 8 here. He has only gone beyond 2m5f on on occasion and he was beaten by over 25 lengths that day. Mind you, the average margin of his 6 hurdles defeats is around 46 lengths, so that was possibly a decent effort for him! If he's not last home here, he'll have done well.
Bold Pimpernel, on the other hand, might well challenge for that wooden spoon, if past form is anything to go by. 15th of 16 and beaten by 134 lengths on debut then 7th of 7 (73L) and 9th of 9 (103L) since would suggest he's not likely to beat many here either. He's massively up in trip for his handicap debut and unless he's been showing something on the gallops we don't know about over longer distances, he's hard to recommend here.
Realms Of Fire has produced his best two runs of his career in the past month since the switch to Louise Allan's yard, making the frame on both occasions and not being beaten by far either. 2.5 lengths adrift off a mark of 74 and then beaten by 9 lengths off 78, he goes off that same mark (jt bottom weight after claims here) again here, suggesting he has every chance of a hat-trick of placed finishes.
Teenage Dirtbag is the other joint bottom weight after jockey claims and this 5 yr old produced his best run to date when 6th of 17 last time out on his first venture beyond 2m5f. He was 14 lengths off the pace over 3m1.5f on good to soft ground off a mark 2lbs higher than today. All five who beat him home have raced since, the first three have all been placed next time out, whilst the fifth placed horse won by 10 lengths over 3m2f at Huntingdon last Tuesday. if the form holds up and this one runs like he did last time out, he could threaten the places here.
Minella Style doesn't appear to have much going for him here or in general if truth be told. He's 11 yrs old now and has no wins from fifteen career starts, making the frame just three times. He was soundly (61L) beaten last time out at Huntingdon just over four months ago and at his age, a recent wind op looks like a desperate last throw of the dice. Racing from 3lbs out of the handicap, I expect him to be towards the rear of the field in this one.
So, we know how this dozen have performed in the past, we now ned to try and translate that pat form into race suitability for the task ahead and if there's an easier way of doing it than Instant Expert, please let me know! I start by looking at overall stats and I see that this field has raced 114 times between them, making the frame on just 28 occasions, which is marginally less than a 1 in 4 ratio. The win figures are atrocious, with just three horses (Everything for You, One For Dunstan & Pour Une Raison) having won in the past and their 6 wins represents a mere 5.26% strike rate across the whole field.
That 5.26% win record means that the win element of Instant Expert...
...doesn't actually tell us a great deal, other than why Everything For You is likely to be a fairly warm favourite. The other two past winners have at least won in a big field and One For Dunstan has won beyond 3m. I hope that we glean more information from the place side of IE, especially if we're going to find ourselves a decent E/W punt...
...which does indeed add a little bit of meat to the bones. Everything For You still heads my thoughts, even if he hasn't fared too well in bigger fields and when I look at who might chase him home, the above graphic and my write-ups are putting the likes of Gold Clermont, One For Dunstan, Pour Une Raison and Realms of Fire in contention.
Let's now try and work out how the race might unfold via the pace tab, where unfortunately the data from previous similar races doesn't really favour any particular running style over another. The IVs of the four style range from 1.33 to 0.92 and neither of those figures are conclusively good or conclusively bad. Over these longer trips, the stats make it patently clear that if you're good enough, you can pretty much win from any racing position, although a more prominent placing would be advised...
And here's how past performances suggest they'll break out...
I expect Everything For You to set the pace, open up a fairly commanding lead and win as comfortably as he likes at a margin of victory pre-requested by his trainer 😉 . After that it's likely to be a pretty open affair and if they all jump soundly, it really should come down to ability and suitability, so with that in mind, I'm happy to take my post-Instant Expert quintet forward to the final summary.
After looking at Instant Expert, I effectively said Everything For You headed my thoughts and the likes of Gold Clermont, One For Dunstan, Pour Une Raison and Realms of Fire would be the ones battling for the places and my opinion hasn't changed.
Looking for a winner, I struggle to see beyond the likely favourite Everything For You, even with a 7lb penalty. he won by 26 lengths last time out, it could have been 36, 46 or 56 etc. I'd be surprised if he completes the race, but doesn't win.
That leaves me with four horses chasing two or three places, depending on your chosen bookie and I think that Realms of Fire is the one I'm least keen on. He has shown dramatic improvement since switching yard but only just made the frame last time out off this mark and a third run in a month might just be too much for him. I don't think he'll be far away from the places, but I have to discard one!
So, I've got my preferred winner, Everything For You and my three place hopefuls, who I think could well finish in the order Gold Clermont / One For Dunstan / Pour Une Raison. My front four are currently (5.25pm) priced at 11/8, 11/4, 15/2 and 14/1. Personally I'm not normally keen on taking 11/8 about a runner in a 12-horse race, but I do expect him to in and there's every chance he'll go off even shorter than that. Of the rest, a 14/1 E/W play for a few pennies on Pour Une Raison would at least give us some other interest in the race.