Racing Insights

Racing Insights, 4th October 2021

Our Pace tab helps to inform us how a race will be run even before the horses have left the starting stalls by studying the in-running comments from recent previous outings for the horses in the race. We believe that this is a vital tool in any bettor's armoury, to the extent that we make the tab totally FREE to ALL readers every Sunday and Monday in addition to our daily free 'races of the day', which for Monday are as follows...

  • 1.15 Stratford
  • 3.05 Tipperary
  • 4.00 Lingfield
  • 4.05 Tipperary
  • 4.45 Pontefract

We've been told to expect soft ground in Yorkshire and with that in mind, I'm going to take a look at the last of our free races, the 4.45 Pontefract, an 11-runner, soft ground, Class 5, 3yo+ flat handicap over a mile...

FORM : Only Helm Rock, Goodwood Glen, Key Look and Ventura Mutiny have a win in their last five outings, although the latter's did come over 15 months ago so probably isn't relevant and we've no LTO winners

CLASS : Little Jo, Helm Rock, Ventura Mutiny and Irv all drop down a level, whilst Al Erayg comes down three grades.

COURSE/DISTANCE : Little Jo is the only former course and distance winner, but all bar Al Qaasim, Dark Spec, Ventura Mutiny and Big Muddy have won over today's trip.

DAYS SINCE RUN : Al Qaasim hasn't been seen for 161 days, whilst Dark Spec, Big Muddy and Ventura Mutiny have also been well rested (60-79 days). The others have all raced in the past month with Al Erayg running as recently as Saturday at Redcar!

Positive : Little Jo, Helm Rock & Grantley for recent form, Al Qaasim for course form.
Negative : Irv on recent form

Positive : Little Jo for recent form, Al Qaasim for course form and Dark Spec, Al Erayg & Goodwood Glen for both.
Negative : Helm Rock for both recent and course form.

AGE : Four three year olds (Helm Rock, Grantley, Ventura Mutiny & Goodwood Glen) all get a 3lb weight allowance.

Instant Expert tells us amongst other things that five of the field have never raced on soft ground before and of the six who have, only three have managed to win...

Helm Rock is one of thoise soft ground winners, he tops the Geegeez SR figures and albeit off a small sample size, he has a line of green on IE, which stands out a mile. Little Jo probably looks second best on that graphic. Al Erayg has a soft ground win, but has tried 12 times which isn't great. he has, however, also made the frame in 4 of his 11 soft ground defeats, which is respectable if nothing else. Irv has placed just once from six, but Little Jo is best of the bunch with 2 wins and 2 places from 6.

DRAW : Stall 10 (Al Erayg) looks a good place to make the frame from, but that's an isolated and potentially misleading stats without seeing the full picture...

...which suggests you really want to be in the bottom half of the draw and those drawn in the lowest third of the stalls have done best of all, which might be good news for Dark Spec, Big Muddy, Little Jo & Grantley. That said, a good draw can be wasted if the race tactics aren't right and the pace tab will tell us more about that. In those races above, where the lower drawn horses have had the best of it, leaders have made the frame most often and leaders/prominent runners have the best win stats...

And when combined, it's not a massive leap of faith to guess that those drawn lowest with leading/prominent running styles are the ones to be on here...

When we then arrange our field into draw order and overlay them onto the pace/draw heatmap...

...we once again see that those drawn in the lowest half of the draw are ones with the most green about them, suggesting they've got the best pace/draw make-up here. Based on everything above, I've narrowed the field down in my mind to six runners from which I'll need to discard at least three. Alphabetically the ones I like(d) were..

  • Al Erayg, who has a decent enough place record on soft ground, he's down three classes, has an in-form jockey with a good course record, but he's poorly drawn and might be running too soon after just a 2 day rest.
  • Dark Spec, who has a great draw, scores well on pace/draw combined, is lightly raced and also has has an in-form jockey with a good course record, but hasn't won a race yet and has never tackled soft ground
  • Grantley, whose yard is in good nick, gets that 3lb allowance, likes to race up with the pace and is drawn well in #4, but has very little soft ground form
  • Helm Rock, who has won a couple this season, drops in class, his yard is in decent form, scored the best on Instant Expert, gets a 3lb weight allowance, has raced prominently and is in the "right" half of the draw, but his jockey is out of form and hasn't done great here of late
  • Key Look, who brings the best form (12) to the table albeit on quicker/AW conditions, she receives weight all round, but is dreadfully drawn here and likes to race from off the pace, which is tough on soft ground here.
  • Little Jo, who was 2nd best on IE, has a great soft ground record, has won seven times over this trip including once over course and distance. He's very much in the right part of the draw, but will need to kick on a little to win here : mid-div running won't help him.


As you'd expect down at Class 5, none of the field not even my 6-runner shortlist tick all the boxes and sometimes in these races, it's a case of who is the least unsuited for the contest and that's not a negative attitude, as one of these will win.

Of my six-runner shortlist, I'm going to set Al Erayg, Dark Spec and Key Look aside. All could feasibly win/make the frame here, but there are too many negotiables/negatives in what i've written about for me to able to back them.

The one I fancy to take this is Little Jo at 9/2. He'll relish the return to soft ground, as his record over a 1m trip on soft reads 41312 (sequence followers' ears pricked up there as surely it must go 41 31 21?) However, I'll NOT be backing him at 9/2. I wanted a better price than that if I'm honest and I was rather hoping for at least 6/1 if not a bit bigger.

So, what of Grantley and Helm Rock? Well, I've not much separating them on my notes/figures, but the former edges it on pace/draw and offers far more value here at 9/1 than the latter's 6's. So, the play for me is a small E/W bet at 9/1 on Grantley.

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