As expected, Metier was an easy winner on Saturday despite a drift out from 6/5 to a far more backable 7/4, whilst the big-priced one I suggested (the 33/1 Tile Tapper) was third at 22/1. Sadly only 7 ran so no E/W payout generally, although some bookies/exchanges did 3 places.
And now to Monday, where our free feature is the PACE tab for all races, whilst our free racecards are offered for the following...
- 1.25 Fakenham
- 1.40 Lingfield
- 2.55 Fakenham
- 3.10 Lingfield
And I'm going to look at the first of those four, the 1.25 Fakenham, an 8-runner, Class 3, Handicap Hurdle for 4yo+ over 2m4f on soft ground with a first prize of £8447...
Paricolor is the form horse here, having won each of his last three starts, whilst Not A Role Model was also a winner last time out. Most of the rest have had a decent run or two fairly recently without actually visiting the winners' enclosure. All eight have been seen within the last 24 to 58 days so none are thrown back into action quickly, but nor have they got rusty.
The trainers of Group Stage and Shantung are the course specialists, whilst the Paricolor & Not A Role Model yards are the one in hottest form right now. From a jockey perspective, Foreign Secretary and No Quarter Asked have the in-form riders, whilst the jockey of the latter along with the rider of Shantung have good records here at the track. Only Ross Chapman aboard Show Promise has any red against his name after just 1 win from his last 53 rides.
Despite his lack of form, his mount ranks second on the Geegeez ratings sandwiched by Foreign Secretary and Paricolor and we should note that the latter steps up two classes today, as does No Quarter Asked and Hier Encore.
We've got soft ground forecast for this one and I would prefer to looking at horses who have fared well in the mud before now and the place element of Instant Expert...
...highlights Paricolor's 2 places from 2 starts on soft ground and Not A Role Model's full line of green. Group Stage is of interest at this point and there are some other promising signs dotted about, but when it comes to actually winning races...
...there's not a lot to shout about after Paricolor's 2 from 2 on soft. Show Promise is 1 from 3 on soft and also at this trip and Not A Role Model still has some green, but there lots of questions about the rest.
The final piece of the racecard jigsaw is the pace make-up of the race...
...where leaders and prominent runners have won 10 of 13 similar contests (77% SR) and taken 20 of the 34 places (58.8%) available, suggesting that Foreign Secretary and Paricolor might get the run of the race here, but with 3 wins (23%) and 7 places (20.6%) from hold up horses, Group Stage wouldn't be out of it either if not cast too far adrift.
And now the runners themselves, as data alone doesn't win races...
Foreign Secretary was a winner over hurdles (2m, Heavy) in Ireland and has made the frame twice in five runs since moving across the Irish Sea. He struggled last time out when beaten by 15 lengths as 7th of 16 over 2m3.5f at Taunton in first time blinkers and now he'll wear a visor for the first time. From a positive perspective, his jockey has 4 wins and 4 places from 18 over the last 30 days and his trainer is 4 from 8 with first time visors over the last five years, whilst he has a 32.7% strike rate with hurdlers at 2m3f-2m4f ion that same period.
Paricolor steps up in class here after winning three sellers (2 at C4 and one at C5) and whilst this is tougher, he's got that winning habit. He's 5 from 12 over hurdles (all in a tongue tie), including 5/8 with today's jockey, 3/3 on soft and 3/3 in blinkers. Conditions look ideal for him if he handles the step up in class. The Trainer/Jockey stats are good at 17 from 70 (24.3% SR) over the last year.
Not A Role Model is better known as a chaser (4 from 12 over fences), but reverts back to hurdling for the first time in almost three years, aiming to improve upon a 0 from 3 record in this sphere. Ended last season with a nice runner-up finish and then was a winner last time out over fences at this trip and grade, but now races of a mark 1lb lower than that win as he tackles the smaller obstacles. If adapting properly, he'll be one of the ones to watch/beat here. Trainer/Jockey are 5 from 19 (26.3% SR) over the last year and Simon Thomas does well with middle distance runners.
Group Stage won a juvenile hurdle Ludlow back on November 2019 and was a runner-up in a Listed event in February at Musselburgh before going off the boil. Returned to some kind of form with a decent third place at Doncaster LTO in this grade. He likes the soft ground (placed in 4 of 8 starts), but is hard to make a winning case for. That said, his yard have a decent record at this venue and his sire's hurdlers have a 1 in 5 record (25/125) including 5 from 13 at Class 3.
Show Promise is a lightly raced (just 9 starts) 7 yr old but was a runner-up in three of five bumpers and won on his hurdling debut almost a year ago. He has since been unplaced in a bumper, pulled up over fences and unplaced in two hurdle races since, so some improvement is needed here. And although Philip Kirby's runners tend to perform well on soft ground, I can't see where the horse's improvement is going to come from, especially with an out of sorts jockey on his back. I'd be surprised if he's anywhere near at the end.
Shantung was 0 from 4 in bumpers and is 1 from 14 over hurdles, which hardly inspires confidence, But after a wind op she has finished 434 in three outings and probably wasn't suited by the drop back to 2 miles last time out at Southwell, nor did she appear to like the brush hurdles. She's better than that run, but would have to step up to make the frame here in my opinion. From a stats-perspective, the Trainer/Jockey numbers are good at 7 from 29 (24.1%) over the last year, whilst the yard is 17/62 (27.4% SR) here over the last five years.
No Quarter Asked was a handicap hurdles runner-up at both Ffos Las and Chepstow back in October before making a chase debut at Hereford LTO (6th of 11, beaten by 11 lengths over 2m on soft at Class 5) His cheekpieces were removed LTO but are refitted here and although he reverts back to hurdles, he's going to need to show far more than he has done previously to even make the frame. No wins from twelve at Classes 4 and 5 doesn't bear well for a Class 3 contest, but both yard and jockey go well in the mud, so it's not an impossible task but it nearly is!
Hier Encore makes up the octet in race card order and I wouldn't be massively shocked if he was also last home. Nought from eleven on Flat /AW and subsequently 2 from 24 over hurdles say he's had a fair crack at being successful but just hasn't made it. Most of his best efforts come at Fontwell and he's 0 from 18 away from that track across all codes! Little positive to say about him other than both his wins did come on soft ground. I'd not be backing him with someone else's money, never mind my own!
Based on the racecard data and my mini-profiles aboive, you'll not be too surprised to learn that the two I like most (in racecard order) are Paricolor and Not A Role Model and before I look at the market, I'd probably just about have them in that order but there's not much between them on my figures.
The market tells me that they are generally available at 5/1 and 3/1 respectively and I think the former looks a little generous with the later probably about right.
Do we need a third horse for either an E/W punt or a tricast possibility? Well, based on what I've put above, Group Stage would be the "third wheel", but at 7/2 you're not getting rich off E/W betting. Only three horses are at what I'd deem E/W prices : Foreign Secretary, Show Promise & Hier Encore. I've already dismissed the latter and the other two don't really appeal either, but if pushed : Foreign Secretary would be the tentative suggestion.