We got the first two home at Uttoxeter this afternoon/early evening, as the money that came in for Tardree was justified, once again showing how good Laura Morgan is at getting her chasers home. If you did want to follow some of Laura's runners, these might be worth a second glance...
Sadly I'd got the 1-2 the wrong way around today, but made enough from the 6.2/1 exacta to cover my win stake, hopefully some of you did the same.
The weekend is almost here and every Friday, we make the Horses for Courses report available to ALL readers. It does pretty much what you'd expect ie shows horses who have previously gone well at the track they're racing at that day. We also, have a list of free racecards each day and on Friday, they are...
- 3.00 Catterick
- 3.10 Epsom
- 6.30 Goodwood
- 7.23 Doncaster
- 7.45 Tramore
- 8.05 Down Royal
Now, the 3.10 Epsom race (Coronation Cup) is clearly the best of that list of races, but with a red hot favourite and the bookies only paying two places, we defer to next best, the 7.23 Doncaster. It's no Coronation Cup, of course, but it's still a decent-looking, hopefully competitive, Class 2 Flat handicap for nine 4yo+ runners over a mile on Good to Firm/Good ground on Town Moor. There's a reasonable enough £10,800 for winning this one and here are the horses entered...
Form : Blue Mist, Power of Darkness, Stunning Beauty, Tiger Crusade and Turn On The Charm have all won at least one of the last five outing, with the last pair being our LTO winners.
Class/Hcp Status/Sex : Beat Le Bon drops down from Listed company, whilst Tiger Crusade, Scottish Summit and Turn On The Charm all ran at Class 3 last time around with Stunning Beauty now stepping up three classes for her handicap debut and she's the only filly in the race.
Days Since Run : All bar Milltown Star (83 days) and Stunning Beauty (99 days) have raced in the past seven weeks with both Scottish Summit and Ebury being rested for less than a fortnight before coming here.
Age : All bar the 8 yr old Scottiish Summit are aged 4-6
Weight spread : Top weight Beat Le Bon will carry 13lbs more than Ebury
Trainer Form / Course record : Tiger Crusade, Scottish Summit, Stunning Beauty and Turn On The Charm all positives for recent form with all bar Scottish Summit being positive for trainer/course stats. Ebury is a negative on that score.
Jockey Form / Course record : Milltown Star, Tiger Crusade and Power of Darkness are partnered by in-form riders whereas Tom Eaves (Ebury) is a negative for recent form and also for his course record. Dane O'Neill (Beat Le Bon) has a positive 5yr course icon, as does Jamie Spencer (Tiger Crusade), but Jamie hasn't fared as well here lately.
SR ratings : Far more spread out (113 to 75) than the OR, with Turn On The Charm a clear leader on that stat.
Beat Le Bon carries top weight of 9st7lbs off a mark of 103 and was very good in the summer of 2019, rattling off a hat-trick of wins at this grade inside ten weeks off marks of 94 to 104, but hasn't won any of ten starts since. Yes, he's below his last winning mark, but his form leaves something to be desired here, needs to step forward to get involved.
Blue Mist landed a £28,000 prize in this class at Ascot last July, beating 18 rivals to the line off a mark of 95. He was subsequently beaten by 4 lengths and then 33 lengths off higher marks before a 30-week break. He returned from his layoff looking like he needed the run in a 14 length defeat at Newbury three weeks ago and although he should come on for the run and he's down a pound, he still has no room for comfort off his current mark.
Milltown Star is steady whilst unspectacular as a Class 2 handicapper, failing to win any of six attempts but rarely getting beaten by far. Most recently he was 6th of 13 over 8.5f at Wolverhampton in this grade, but that came after a 24-week break and he was only 1.25 lengths behind the leader. An easing of a pound in the weights and having had the run would suggest he'd be a contender, but closer analysis says that was a poor race last time out, as the ten runners to have re-appeared since have just 1 win and 4 places from 26 combined efforts.
Tiger Crusade was 3rd of 4, beaten by just over 4 lengths on debut in August 2019 and has only raced six times since, making the frame in all six, winning three times and not beaten by more than two lengths. He won by the thick end of three lengths at Kempton last time out, but is up 6lbs for that win, steps up to a mile for the first time, steps up to Class 2 for the first time and returns to turf for the first time in 45 weeks. There are too many "firsts" there for him to be my first, although I think he'll run creditably.
Scottish Summit had a really good summer last time around with a run of form reading 32322101 with a pair of wins at this 1m trip. He was only beaten by half a length on soft ground at Ripon just over a week ago and now back on his preferred quicker ground off the same mark must be a contender here.
Power of Darkness had his best bout of form in 2018/19 with a run starting around this time of year and reading 112711 to mid-August 2019. He was then off the track for 323 days and only ran twice last year, going down by 6L and 9L over 1m/1m1f at this grade. He could only manage to finish 19th of 16 (7L down) at Newbury seven weeks ago, but that was after another 204 days off and now with that run under his belt and dropped down to his last winning mark, he'd be an unlikely winner here, but it would be within his scope to threaten the places.
Stunning Beauty burst onto the scene last season, winning both her UK races. Both were 1m Novice encounters and she won a Class 4 by 4 lengths and then a Class 5 by 7.5 lengths, before a 171 day break. She then blotted her copybook by finishing last of 9 and second last of 14 over the winter at Meydan and now 99 days later has a fair bit to do here back on turf.
Turn On The Charm made his handicap debut almost a year ago and he has three wins and two places from seven handicap runs. His worst results were two fourth places finishes either side of a 163-day layoff and he won by two lengths at Lingfield almost a month ago. He might well be up another 5lbs, but he's a solid progressive handicapper getting weight from most of his rivals.
Ebury ran his best race for some time when third of seven last time out and after six consecutive runs at 7f, now steps back up to a mile for the first time in almost a year. His best form has been over this trip and he has won on good to firm, but he's a Class 3 horse at best for me and despite carrying bottom weight here, a mark of 90 is still probably a little high.
At this point, I already like the look of some over others and so far I'm not too keen on the likes of Blue Mist, Milltown Star or Stunning Beauty, but maybe the Geegeez toolbox will convince me otherwise, starting with relevant form as highlighted by Instant Expert...
Nothing there has pushed me closer to the three I didn't like from stage 1 and you can probably add Ebury to that list. Power of Darkness' numbers are really interesting and would suggest a big run if recapturing old form.
If we consider the draw in three blocks of three runners, then the raw data from 46 previous similar contests would suggest that for win purposes, a mid-draw (4-6) would be advantageous and that the higher you get drawn the more chance you have of making the frame...
That mid-stalls success is a little at odds with my disliking of Milltown Star and Stunning Beauty in 4 and 5, but closer examination of the stall by stall results...
...would debunk the theory of a discernible draw bias. Yes, stall 1 has done really well, which is great for Power of Darkness, but the numbers aren't that much better than stales 4, 6 or 7. Stalls 3 and 8 have underperformed, but as the graph shows there's not really a massive variance aside from those two, so I think they might be rogue numbers here. In fact, the Geegeez course guide for Doncaster says..."on faster ground the draw has little bearing on the race outcome"...
Pace-wise, mid-division runners would seem to have struggled at first glance, but they only represent 8.25% of all runners and such a small sample size is both volatile and unreliable. Hold up horses have the best wins to runs ratio, but to prove the volatility of the small sample data for mid-division horses, just one more mid-0div winner would move the win % from 9.09 to 12.12...
So, if we put mid-division runners to one side, there's not actually a massive pace bias here either, although hold up horses are far more likely to make the frame than leaders.
Essentially, Doncaster is a pretty fair track and with no distinct pace or draw bias, you'd expect the "best" runners to win more often. That's a fair assumption to make, but there are still some pace/draw combinations are have been more successful than others...
Basically, if you're drawn low, you want to be getting out sharpish, but if you're not drawn low, you should bide your time. I wonder how our nine runners fit that heatmap. Let's have a look in draw order, shall we?
Power of Darkness is a confirmed hold-up horse and whilst he's not got the ideal draw for that style of running, it's what he's always done. The pace is likley to come from Stunning Beauty and Ebury and I'd envisage them getting passed by a few later on in the contest. Scottish Summit is likely to tuck in alongside/with Blue Mist at the rear, which would be a good tactic from wide.
I won't beat about the bush here, I'll move straight to my chosen three against the field. I like Scottish Summit, who looks on the verge of going on another run of form like last summer, he's off the same mark as a good run last time out and is now on favoured conditions. His pace/draw make-up is decent enough and he's only 5lbs higher than his last win. It won't be easy for him, of course, but at 6/1 he looks decent value.
Turn On the Charm isn't as well suited from the data highlighted by the toolbox, but this is his trip, he's drawn next to my first choice, he won last time out and he's a solid reliable handicapper. based on his profile 3/1 is probably about fair and he's sure to be involved.
As for another placer or possible E/W punt, you can get 16/1 about Power of Darkness, He's lightly raced of late, but if getting back to anything like what he's capable of, then he has every chance of making the frame and defying the odds. His handicap record shown on Instant Expert speaks for itself.