In the first of two races I looked at from today's Lingfield card, I felt Curtiz had a chance of a place if he could grab an early lead, if he was to win, he'd have to beat El Conquistador, who was available at 11/4. . I felt Curtiz was too short for an E/W bet at 7/2 , but I did find Cafe Milano interesting at 9/1 for those seeking a longer priced bet.
El Conquistador won at a very short 6/5 and Cafe Milano was third at 11/1, Curtiz was unplaced.
The second race featured two highlighted runners and I said that I preferred Propagation of the two and he could sneak into the places and that I thought River Wharfe might be the one to beat and you could possibly throw a blanket over four or five horses for the places.
Propagation did grab third place, but wasn't backable from an E/W perspective. River Wharfe, however, was beaten by just over a length yet could only manage sixth. How big is a blanket?
Thursday's feature of the day is free access to Instant Expert for all races for all readers, whilst our races of the day are...
- 12.30 Ludlow
- 1.40 Southwell
- 2.15 Southwell
- 2.55 Clonmel
...and today is one of those "perfect storm" situations, where one of our races of the day is not only an interestingly tight decent standard of race, but also features a runner with a full line of green on Instant Expert, the feature of the day. So, it would almost be rude not to look at the 2.15 Southwell, an 8-runner, Class 2 A/W handicap for 4yo+ runners over 7f on the Fibresand here in Nottinghamshire. The winner will receive almost £12,000 for their troubles and is one of these eight...
As you can see the racecard is littered with red numbers under the runners' names, indicating notable stats and there are plenty of icons (red & green) by the names of the trainers and jockeys, so we've loads of data to take into consideration.
Gabrial The Devil has the best recent form and just shades the Geegeez Speed Ratings ahead of both Rock Sound (who won LTO) and Zylan who has also been going well of late, placing in four of his last six including two wins. My initial thoughts are that Muntadab's poor form looks out of place here and he could well need the run after a 20-week break, but let's assess each in turn, starting with...
Gulliver, who bears top weight here conceding a huge 11lbs and more to the field although he has been eased 2lbs from his last run, when beaten by 6.5 lengths at this class/trip at Lingfield six weeks ago. His sole run here at Southwell saw him win over 6f back in January 2020 off a pound higher than today and 3 of his 4 A/W wins have been at that shorter trip, but he stands every chance here.
Stats say the yard is shy on recent winners and that Jason Hart hasn't got the best out of the rides he's been given...
Tawny Port won here at Class 3 over 5f back in December 2019 and followed that with a Class 2 win over 5f at Chelmsford a fortnight later for a third win in four starts, which began with a Class 4, 5f win here too. It's fair to say he has struggled in nine defeats since, but is now back to that last winning mark. That said, he's only a pound lower than when last of five here over 5f last time out and recent form allied to a 2f step up in trip make me cold about his chances.
Stats say Callum Rodriguez is in good nick and also back up my claim of two course wins...
Stone Soldier is four from six in A/W handicaps, including two from three here at Southwell. He won here twice within 10 days in December 2020, initially by 4.25 lengths over this trip at Class 4 and then over a mile, also at Class 4, where he just got home by half a length. He then reverted to this trip up in class and weight (+5lbs) last time out and could only finish 6th of 8, beaten by over 8 lengths. He's up in class again here and I think this is a tough ask for him.
Stats, however, show a yard in form with a good course record. The yard's horses seem to go well after a break and jockey Luke Morris has been amongst the winners for the yard over the last year...
Gabrial The Devil is bang in form having made the frame in 6 of his last 8 (winning twice), he steps up a class here after being beaten by just a neck over this trip at Lingfield last time out. He has only won one of ten A/W starts to date, but that win did come here at Southwell (8 weeks ago) and all six career wins have come at 6f. Up in class, trip and weight, he's going to need to find more here.
Stats are plentiful for this one and show a yard with a good course record, a jockey with a good course record and unsurprisingly good figures for the TJ Combo...
Aljari has won four of a dozen A/W starts, including a class, course and distance win here just over a year ago. He hasn't run particularly well in his last four outings split by a three month break, though and when last seen was beaten by five lengths here at 6f in a Class 3 contest. he has been eased a couple of pounds, but still steps up in trip and class. Although now lower than his last winning mark, others are preferred here.
Stats say that the yard is struggling for winners both recently and over the last year and haven't fared well here recently either, but Ben Curtis is riding well, bags winners at Southwell and has a decent record on the Botti string.
Rock Sound is a very interesting one here, having finished 12241 in five A/W runs (121 here) and was a winner at this track last time out. That was just a week ago as he defied any effects of a 16-week lay off to beat the re-opposing Zylan by a length and a quarter. From a more negative perspective, he's up two classes here, tackles 7f for the first time on A/W and is effectively 11lbs worse off today (6lb penalty and no 5lb jockey claim).
There's a whole bundle of stats about this one, the main ones say that trainer George Boughey's horses are flying right now, his LTO winners fare really well next time out and that he has good results from a small number of visits to Southwell. On the other hand, the normally excellent Hollie Doyle is scratching around for results and I half expected her to be riding Stone Soldier for Archie Watson.
Zylan is one of two Roger Fell-trained runners at the foot of the card and he's the more likely of the two to succeed based on recent form. He was only 1.25 lengths behind Rock Sound last time out and now meets him again on much better terms, He's a winner of 10 of his 41 A/W outings in a lengthy 78-race career and in the last 14 months has raced almost exclusively here at Southwell, racing here 18 times of his 20 starts, winning three times and making the frame on another five occasions. He has 8 wins and 6 places from 26 runs here, but it must be said that his best form here has been at Class 4 and over 6f. I'd expect him to go well, but others are more likely to be suitable, as he steps up two grades and a furlong.
Stats say Roger Fell's horses have a poor recent record from a win perspective, although they've started to make the frame over the last fortnight. His 1-year figures aren't great and a comparison of the Trainer/Jockey 1-year course stats and the yard's 1-year course stats say that the yard are 4 from 15 with talented 7lb claimer Tyler Heard in the saddle, but just 1 from 25 with other jockeys. That said, the yard does well with horses turned back out quickly.
Muntadab makes up the octet here and looks the worst of the bunch on form. Like stablemate Zylan above, he's been around the block a few times, racing on 64 previous occasions, but a respectable 11 from 55 record on turf hasn't translated well into A/W form where he is just 1 from 9. It's just over a year and 11 races since he last tackled an A/W surface and he now returns from a break of over 20 weeks since completing a run of defeats that saw him beaten by 16.5L, 17.5L, 16L and 10L in his last four, all over today's trip.
Stats as you'd expect confirm the Roger Fell form from above, but also show the yard's poor record with horses coming off a break. Our jockey isn't in sparkling form either both recently, yearly or at this track and hasn't done too well riding for the yard in the past.
So, I'd say we can rule Muntadab out here!
I did say earlier that one of these had a full line of green on Instant Expert, which is Thursday's 'feature of the day', so let's find out which horse that is...
Stone Soldier is the line of green horse based on all races, but it might well be worth looking at how these horses have fared purely in A/W handicaps...
and I think that gives us a clearer picture of which horses are likely to fare best here.
Our draw and pace stats for 8-runner handicaps of this nature suggest that those drawn highest are the ones to follow. Stall 1 has been poor, whilst 2 to 6 hasn't been a bad draw, but 7 and 8 are by far the best draw here. We also see that the further forward you race, the better the chance you have of winning.
So, I suppose it's very unsurprising that those drawn high and who like to lead have done very well here...
All we need to do now is overlay the recent running styles of out eight runners and put them in draw order and we should see a pattern of how the race might unfold...
The suggestion is that Stone Soldier and Rock Sound will try to take it on from the highest stalls, whilst Zylan will also attempt to lead, but could well struggle late on up in class and weight.
I think based on everything I've written, I want Gabrial The Devil, Rock Sound and Stone Soldier to be my three against the field, but they're not concrete solid picks. Gulliver and Zylan could also go well, but I can't pick five from eight!
Of my three tricast/trifecta hopefuls, I think Rock Sound and Stone Soldier are the strongest, so Gabrial sits in third for me here. He's in great form, but needs to improve on his A/W hcp record, but should still go well if not too keen too early.
So, we're down to two and I think Rock Sound edges it for me over Stone Soldier. Stall 8 is the best draw, he races slightly more prominently than Stone Soldier, he won nicely last time out and should come on for having had that run.
Sadly, the market agrees with my 1-2-3 at 11/4 and 7/2 twice, but hopefully we're all right!