Racing Insights

Racing Insights, 30th November 2021

Tuesday's free feature is The Shortlist, a simple (and usually brief) report highlighting those horses with a largely ‘green’ profile in the Instant Expert Report each day. It covers win or place stats, and can be viewed for both the current and the next day's racing.

Tuesday's Shortlist looks like this...

GREEN is good (33% or better win rate) – worth 3 points
AMBER is quite good (16-32% win rate) – worth 1 point
RED is not so good (0-15% win rate) – worth -1 points
GREY means there is no available data for that factor - worth 0 points

The final column, ‘Score’, is the sum of the previous five ‘colour’ columns, with 15 being an all green profile, and 9 being the lowest score appearing on this report.

HINT: The best bets are not necessarily the highest scores. Rather, they are often the biggest difference between a Shortlist horse and the ‘best of the rest’ in that race.

N.B. Shortlist selections are unlikely to make a profit, at SP at least, to blind backing. Our recommendation is – and has always been – that The Shortlist should be a starting point rather than an end in itself. That said, it continues to highlight horses whose chance is better than recent form - and its odds - imply.

In addition to this feature, we also offer the following as our free races of the day...

  • 1.10 Lingfield
  • 1.55 Southwell
  • 2.15 Lingfield
  • 2.45 Lingfield

Parts of the Southwell track are still frozen (could be worse, we've 6 inches of snow where I live!) and they'll inspect at 7.00am, so it's probably best that we focus elsewhere. The first of the three races at Lingfield is a 2yo Maiden, the second is a 5-runner, Class 3 handicap and the last is a  poor-looking, big-field (Class 6, 14-run) handicap. To be honest, none of them really grab me instantly, but despite only having a handful of runners, the 2.15 Lingfield must be the best of that bunch.

It's a 5-runner, Class 3, 3yo+ A/W (polytrack) handicap over a left handed 1m2f for a first prize of £6,210...

Surprise Exhibit makes just a sixth career start and a handicap debut off a tough-looking opening mark of 97. He also might need a run after a break of 224 days since being pulled up in a Listed race at Epsom back in April. That said, he's now down two classes and is 1 from 1 on the A/W, albeit a Class 5 affair on the Tapeta in August 2020 and his yard have a good record with horses coming back from a break, but he's not an obvious winner here, even if the trainer/jockey won this race in 2020...

Alba Rose was second here over 7f on debut (Aug'20) and then won over the same trip three weeks later, but hasn't made the frame in five starts since. She makes a polytrack debut here three weeks after her A/W debut where she was fifth of eight at Wolverhampton, but only beaten by a short-head and three necks! The trainer/jockey are 24 from 80 (30% SR) in handicaps here since the start of 2017 and they have a generally healthy overall record here...

Sky Power has never been out of the first four home in nine starts (1 x win, 4 x 2nd, 2 x 3rd and 2 x 4th). He was a half-length runner-up over 1m3f on his Class 3 bow at Kempton two starts ago and ran better than 4th of 13 at that same track LTO would suggest. That was over 1m4f and he faded badly late on. Yes, he's up in class, but goes off the same mark and will appreciate the quarter mile drop in trip after a six week rest. His yard have a 26% strike rate in handicaps here since 2016 and his stablemates are in decent form of late...

Caribou won back to back heavy ground, six furlong contests at the end of the 2020 campaign, but hasn't hit those heights this year since being stepped up to 7f and 1m. He was a well beaten (8 lengths) 7th of 11 over a mile at Chelmsford last time out and it's difficult to see how an extra 2f and a rise in class will help him here, even if he is down 2lbs and his yard have had some success at this venue...

Taravara is winless in all twelve starts to date, but looks dangerous at the foot of the weights, back at a trip he prefers. His two best runs so far came over a 1m2f trip at Nottingham and Doncaster early in the 2021 season, when a runner-up on both occasions. He was beaten by a neck off a mark of 77 and then by three parts of a length off a career high 83. He's now down to a mark of 76, gets weight all round and his yard have a decent record on the A/W, especially at this venue...

Instant Expert will now give us a unique overview of the field's relevant past form (not withstanding the fact that Taravara is 0/12)...

I've chosen to look at place form, because the win stats didn't really tell us too much about a field that has just 5 wins from 42 starts. However with a place strike rate of 40.5% (17 times in the frame), we do get a bit more data to deal with and Sky Power is the obvious standout, but the winless Taravara also stands up well off bottom weight.

Next up, we need to consider the draw, but even though it's a left handed race I wouldn't expect a massive draw bias due to there only being five runners and also because the length of the race allows horses time to recover from what have been perceived as a "bad" draw, but we'll only know if I'm right in my assertions, if we check the stats...

It's pretty much as we've assumed in fairness. Yes, stall 1 has slightly underperformed at 12% winners, but the other stalls are all fairly similar stats-wise, but if we're going to say that Alba Rose (stall 1) is the most disadvantaged by the draw, then Taravara in 4 probably marginally has the best of it.

However, we're saying that we don't think the draw will play a massive part here, so it could/should boil down to tactics aka "pace" and our stats from those races above tell us...

...that the most likely scenario is that a leader and/or a hold-up horse wins and takes second place. Prominent runners do OK from a win perspective, but only win 5 of an expected 6 (IV = 0.83), whilst mid-division horses do well at making the frame, so let's check the running styles of our five competitors...

So, we're likely to have Surprise Exhibit setting the fractions early doors with Taravara the expected back markers and he has run well from the back recently, despite running out of time/space to land a blow : the extra 2f will help.


Surprise Exhibit will set the pace, but might find 1m2f tough bearing top weight after a long break and I'd not be surprised to see him fade from contention. Alba Rose will run prominently and although her yard and rider do well here, it's her first crack at it and all her best form has been over much shorter. Sky Power is the best horse on paper, but is 11lbs higher than his last win and hasn't quite got home off marks in the 80's. He hasn't yet adopted a particular running style and might not settle as well as the others, but is by no means out of it, especially with his Instant Expert numbers.

Caribou is in poor form right now and surely won't be aided by a mid-division running style, an extra quarter mile and a step up in class here and I'd not be surprised if he wasn't well beaten here. Of course, his yard have done well here previously, but I fear this one is beyond him, whereas bottom weight Taravara has some great place numbers, is off a really low mark despite running well last time out and will be able to pick his moment having watched the race unfold ahead of him.

The two that interest me most are the two highlighted by Instant Expert, Sky Power & Taravara and whilst the former is expected to be a much better horse than the latter, I think the weights and running styles will even the contest out.

The bookies (only Hills open at 3.25pm) have Sky Power as the 6/4 favourite, but Taravara is a 5/1 shot and I think that's a far better proposition from a point of finding some value. I might well have the 1-2 the wrong way round, but I'd like Taravara to beat Sky Power here


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