No joy for us on Wednesday, but when the first four home in an eight-runner race are 10/1, 6/1, 6/1 and 8/1, I'm guessing not many people called it right in a contest where 10/1 was the highest SP. I don't like getting it badly wrong, but I'm mildly heartened when it's not just me!
Every Thursday, we make the Instant Expert feature on the racecard available to ALL readers for ALL races including, of course, our daily free 'races of the day', which are set to be...
- 1.55 Leopardstown
- 3.05 Leopardstown
- 4.55 Ffos Las
- 5.10 Uttoxeter
- 5.15 Thirsk
- 7.45 Thirsk
The best of the UK races from that list is the 5.10 Uttoxeter, a competitive looking 6-runner affair. We probably won't get a big price about the winner but it looks an interesting puzzle to unravel this Class 4 Handicap Chase over two miles on good ground. The top prize of £3,594 awaits one of this half dozen of geldings...
Although this is a National Hunt contest, we can still approach it in a similar manner to the Flat races we've been profiling more of late.
Form : We have three with wins in their last five outings with Cawthorne being the only LTO winner
Handicap Experience : All bar Tardree have raced in handicap company before now
Class : Chez Hans and Cawthorne step up from Class 5
Course/Distance : Twycross Warrior is the sole previous winner here at Uttoxeter, albeit over a different trip, but he has won elsewhere at this 2m distance, as have all bar Chez Hans.
Recent Runs : All have been seen recently in the last 18-27 days, so no layoffs to overcome
Trainer Form : Handlers of Tardree and Zuckerberg are going well, but Larch Hill's yard is unusually quiet
Jockey Form : Conversely Larch Hill's rider has a good Uttoxeter record, as indeed does the jockey aboard Twycross Warrior
Weights : A fairly big spread here with Cawthorne carrying 16lbs less than Larch Hill!
Larch Hill does indeed head the weights and has 12 stones to carry here, but arrives here in peak form having finished 212 in three starts this year so far. Beaten by just a length and a quarter on his return from a 20-week break, he then went on to score by 5 lengths at his favoured Warwick before going down by just three parts of a length at this class over a furlong further on unsuitably soft ground at Stratford 18 days ago. He's only up a pound for that and now back on quicker ground at his preferred trip, you'd expect him to be in with a good shout of breaking his yard's current (0/21, but 8 top 3 finishers) cold spell.
Tardree is a former PTP winner who has made just four starts under Rules, finishing 2nd then 1st in two bumpers last year before running fourth on his hurdles bow just after Christmas. He was then rested for 130 days before returning to finish third over hurdles at Market Rasen less than four weeks ago and I find it interesting that he is being sent chasing so soon for a yard with a 25.7% strike rate in Class 4 handicap chases since the start of 2018 (18 from 70 at an A/E of 1.55).
Zuckerberg won four of eighteen in France over hurdles/fences, but is 0 from 9 in the UK one the A/W, over hurdles and chasing without even making the frame. His best UK run came LTO when he was 3rd of 7 at Sedgefield, but is now a pound higher as he drops back in trip by some 3.5f. Trainer, Jockey and Trainer/Jockey are all in good form, but I prefer others here.
Chez Hans' sole win came over hurdles at Leicester in December 2018 when he was quite lucky to be handed the race after the leader fell. Since then he has only raced six times in thirty months, failing to complete three of the six. His record this year reads PU5 and he was 5th of 9, beaten by 19 lengths last time out. He's up in class and has no form at this trip and at the moment looks like the worst of the six runners here.
Twycross Warrior has just completed 15 straight runs over hurdles and has run pretty consistently of late, but without winning. In five races since the start of last year, he made the frame four times and was then 4th of 12 last time out. His sole win came at this track/trip just over two years ago and now tackles fences for the first time at the age of nine. His jockey rides the track well and the horse's past form deserves respect, but I don't see him winning here first up.
Cawthorne presents an interesting conundrum here. He was last home of nine (bt by 148L!) in October 2019 and then failed to complete six (4 falls, 2 x PU) of his next seven before he surprisingly won a Class 5 hurdle at Market Rasen over 2m3f last September off a mark of 79. he followed that up by making the frame at Exeter 12 days later before taking a 197-day break. He probably needed the run when beaten by 34 lengths at Chepstow on St George's Day, but then switched back to fences to win by almost 5 lengths at Sedgefield last time out off a mark of 83. He's up in class here and some 11lbs higher and those facts along with his previous poor form allied to his trainer's poor (4 from 84 = 4.76% SR, A/E 0.55) record here at Uttoxeter since the start of 2018 puts me off somewhat.
That's a general overview of the runners recent history, but 'feature of the day' Instant Expert gives us a quick overview of past form under today's race conditions...
There isn't much data from the runners' previous chase contests, so I've also shown you their overall records in NH races and Larch Hill looks to be the standout here.
As this is a two mile chase, there are no stalls and subsequently no draw data to consider, so we'll move straight to the pace tab for race positioning...
I wouldn't set too much faith in the 25% strike rate for mid-division runners, as it's from such a small sample size and what I'd be taking from the above is that you really want to be up with the pace here at Uttoxeter. Leaders/prominent runners have won 14 of the 18 races and have taken 25 of the 36 places available. I wouldn't say whether racing in mid-div was a good or a bad thing, but I do know you don't win many from a hold-up position, although there's always a chance of making the frame, as fields often get strung out here at Uttoxeter.
So, do we have a natural pace setter or two here? Well, based on their last four outings...
...I'd be very surprised if chase debutant Tardree didn't set the fractions. This is clearly a successful tactic on this track, but it's also good for those tackling fences for the first time, as they get the clearest view possible of each obstacle. Whether he can create a big enough gap to hold on to, is the big question.
If Tardree takes to the fences, then he's of real interest here. His yard do so much better with their Clas 4 handicap chasers than in any other kind of race and I've no doubts that he'll have been well schooled. He has moved from 5/1 in the market to 7/2 whilst I've been typing (must type quicker!), but I think he'll have to play second fiddle to the top weight.
Once again, I have to make an assumption or two and hope that Larch Hill can carry 12 stones well enough and that he doesn't let Tardree to get too far ahead. His jockey (ST-D) is no mug, he rides this track well and is a prety good judge of pace, so it's Larch Hill at 11/4 for me here.