Racing Insights

Racing Insights, 31/12/21

The last Racing Insights piece of the year, I do hope you've found the column useful. We end the year with the Horses for Courses (H4C) report as our free Geegeez Gold feature, as indeed it is every Friday. This report shows the full course history since 2009 of any horse running that has previously had a run at the track and is sorted by number of wins, but this can be changed to any column at the user’s discretion.

As well as today’s race time, course, horse name, jockey and trainer name, there is a breakdown of runs, wins and places, and profit and loss calculations for both win and each way betting. As with all Geegeez reports, there is a ‘Today’ and a ‘Tomorrow’ (for the next day’s racing) view.

HINT: Layers might like to look towards the lower end of the report, for those with negative performance at the track.

[Please refer to our User Guide for further information]

My settings for the H4C report for Friday have generated the following runners of interest...

And we also have our usual selection of full free racecards, which cover the...

  • 12.22 Uttoxeter
  • 12.40 Lingfield
  • 1.20 Punchestown
  • 2.55 Lingfield

Now, one of our H4C report qualifiers runs in one of our free races and it looks a competitive affair to boot. It might be tricky to call and I may well get my fingers burnt, but I think I should end the year by tackling the 12.40 Lingfield, a trappy-looking, Class 3, 5f sprint handicap for runners aged 3 and over. There are eight runners, including H4C horse Lucky Ava tackling this left handed polytrack contest in a bid to land the £6,210 first prize and here are your runners and riders etc...

We've no LTO winners on display here, but all bar Outrage, Lihou and Marnie James have at least one win from their last six outings. Not only is Outrage without a recent win, he's also up in class today, but so are Vandad and H4C horse Lucky Ava after defeats LTO. Lihou and Marnie James, however, come the other direction as they drop down from class 2 action last time out.

Of the eight runners, only Marnie James has yet to win at Lingfield, but he has only been here once before and has won over this trip. The other seven have all won over 5f on this very track. Vandad hasn't raced for three months, but his rivals have all been seen in the last six weeks with Outrage, Lihou and Marnie James running in the last fortnight.

There's not many positive pointers from a trainer/jockey perspective, but Marco Ghiani (Sir Rodneyredblood) seems in decent form and also has a good record at this venue, as does Jim Crowley aboard Lihou.

As you'd expect from a race where 7 of the 8 have won over course and distance, there's quite a bit of green on the Instant Expert...

...where I'd say the likes of Vandad and Marnie James look vulnerable. The former is 0/13 on the going, 1/7 here at Lingfield, steps up in class and is 5lbs higher than his last win : that's not a good combination. Marnie James effectively has a whole line of red (the field column is the weakest for me) and his 1/8 over this trip is poor and even if he is 17lbs below his last win, he's not ringing my bell right now, so I'm thinking neither of these are winning this.

But could they make the frame? Let's see if they look any better from a place perspective...

Well, if I'm honest, Vandad does look a better place prospect than a winner, but so do most of his rivals except Marnie James who basically doesn't even make the frame in similar contests. Neither of these do it for me, so they're out of consideration.

According to our course guide, jockey David Probert says that..."In five and six furlong handicaps, you want to be handy, and perhaps ideally with a middle draw to cut the corner a little. That gives you the most options. They're both tricky starts, the five in a little chute on the crown of the bend, and the six just before the bend on the main track. Inside draws need to be very quick away and edge right a bit to get a position, because if you don't you'll be in a pocket and it'll be hard..."

David's assertion is backed up by the stats of 56 similar races since 2014, which show that the further way from stall 1 you're drawn, the harder it has been to win and that the top half of the draw has enjoyed the most success from both a win and place perspective.

This news is good for H4C horse Lucky Ava as well as Outage and the two I've already dismissed. That doesn't mean those drawn higher than four can't win, but it will be a bit more difficult and they'll have to get their tactics spot on over a 5f that has again shown a lineal deterioration of chance, this time favouring those racing furthest forwards...

The key here would seem to be get out quickly and hold on and this somewhat annoyingly for me would again seem to suit Marnie James, who I don't like for this contest. That said, Rose Hip won here over course and distance despite coming from the rear...

Now here's the rub, low draws are best here and leading is the preferred tactic, but when we look at the pace/draw heatmap, the low drawn leader doesn't come out on top! Don't get me wrong, they still have a good win percentage, but they're only third best as leaders from mid/high draw fare better as seen here...

...which would then tend to tip the balance back towards the likes of Lihou and Sir Rodneyredblood.

Summary

At this point, I've only ruled out Vandad and Marnie James (whose pace/draw profile hopefully won't bite me on the backside), so I've still six in contention. Of the six, Sir Rodneyredblood is another favoured by the pace/draw heatmap and he did win three and four starts ago, but that pushed his mark up into the 80's and after finishing second off 83 and then last of six off 84, I feel he's too high in the weights now.

Top Breeze might try to lead, but might be held up, they keep changing tactics, but nothing seems to be working right now and he doesn't see races out especially competitive ones, so I'd be reluctant to go with him and I'm not massively keen on Outrage either after he was only 6th here over course and distance last time out. The step up in class isn't going to help and he's likely to have a wall of runners in front of him as they come of the home turn.

All of which leaves me alphabetically with Lihou, Lucky Ava (the H4C horse) and Rose Hip.

Lihou has of course, won here over course and distance and was also a runner-up twice here over 5f at Class 2 earlier in the year off marks of 89 and 90. He was a respectable third at Wolverhampton in a higher grade last time out, despite having to run wide and now down 3lbs from that run is of real interest here.

Lucky Ava is proven here and she's 3 from 12 this year. She has made the frame in each of her last three outings and was only narrowly touched off over course and distance last time out. Sadly she's up 3lbs for that defeat, which makes this tougher, but a repeat effort puts her in the frame again.

Rose Hip was the horse who beat Lucky Ava here 41 days ago and then was a more than respectable third last time out on Tapeta debut and up 4lbs. She's won three times and placed once from five on a left handed turn which is far better than her record on a straight track and being drawn out in seven could help her "slingshot" the bend. She's a pound worse off with Lucky Ava today, but that shouldn't anchor here.

Truth be told, there's probably very little between the three of them, as we saw when the latter two were only a short head apart over course and distance. These are the three I like best, but any of them could win it. The bookies have Lihou as 3/1 favourite with Lucky Ava a 5/1 chance, whilst Rose Hip is as long as 13/2 in places and I do have a slight preference for her. I think she'll beat Lucky Ava again, so I'm taking Rose Hip at 13/2. Lihou is on a long-ish losing run and despite looking ready to succeed, losing is a habit and Lucky Ava might well edge second, but I doubt there'll be much between all three.

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