We had three of the first four home on Saturday and despite my preferred pick failing to complete, we did highlight the eventual 9/2 winner as a good 12/1 E/W bet, so not all was lost!
Easter Monday (yes, we work all through the holidays here!) is next up for us and we make the PACE tab available to ALL readers for ALL races, including our free 'races of the day', which take us to England, Wales and Ireland as follows...
- 2.05 Fairyhouse
- 2.35 Chepstow
- 3.10 Chepstow
- 4.20 Fairyhouse
- 4.40 Cork
- 5.25 Plumpton
And it's the second of the two Welsh contests that interests me most, the 3.10 Chepstow, an 8-runner, Class 2 handicap chase over two miles on good ground and the horses aiming to land the £10,034 top prize are...
Amoola Gold is having a great season, having won at Wetherby in October after 229 days off track before following up in a Listed event at Ascot. He was then second in two subsequent races after successive rises of 6lbs and 5lbs before the final combined straw of another 3lb rise and the step up to Grade 3 racing saw him finish 8th of 19, 18 lengths off the pace in the Grand Annual at the recent Cheltenham Festival. he's back down in class here, but might still find his unchanged mark of 146 a little too much to bear. A positive stat is that his jockey is 7 from 34 here at Chepstow over the last five years, including 7 from 31 for trainer Dan Skelton.
Ashutor was also well beaten in the Grand Annual, a place and a length and three quarters further back than Amoola Gold. Prior to that, however, he had taken well to chasing, finishing 21132 in five efforts and with a 2lb drop in weight to a mark of 137, he could go close again here.
Larry was a reasonable Class 3/4 hurdler back in 2018 and had a decent early 2019 over fences finishing 1421, including a win at this level off a mark 3lbs higher than today, but struggled in two runs in November 2019 and hasn't been seen since. Highly likely that he'll need the run here and is probably best watched.
Vado Forte was knocking on the door for some time ahead of landing his first chase success at Doncaster back in December, but hasn't kicked on in three runs since and although he's now only a pound higher than that win, he's probably best avoided up in class, even if the yard is 11/44 here over the last five years and his jockey is 12/65 in the same period.
Before Midnight arrives here in good consistent form on the back of landing his third bumper win from four attempts. Yet to get off the mark after six cracks at fences, but the fact he has finished 2232 in his last four suggests he's on the verge of winning soon, especially off the same mark as his last two runs. His yard are going well too with 5 wins from 12 in the last month, whilst the Trainer/Jockey record of 6 from 15 over the last year is excellent.
Zoffee was more comfortable than a length would suggest when winning over fences for the first time at Exeter in a 3-horse race back in October, but hasn't really progressed in three outings since and has been pulled up ands then beaten by over 15 lengths in his last two. He is, however, on a much more workable mark of 128, some 4lbs lower than that win, so a return to form wouldn't be out of the question here.
Solar Impulse is an interesting/difficult one to assess. He's not getting any younger at 11 yrs of age and has only won 4 off 4 over fences. His career stats say he shouldn't be anywhere near winning this one either, but won off this mark six races and eight months ago and then made the frame on his next two contests. A couple of poor efforts followed, but he was a decent runner-up last out, less than 3 lengths off the pace. Having made the frame on five of his last seven, you'd have to consider him, but I'm worried about him possibly needing a run stepping up in class after 16 weeks off the track.
Court Royale was a reasonable hurdler winning 3 of his 11 starts and has already won twice over fences from his last six outings and although he made the frame last out, he was beaten by more than 16 lengths at Class 4. He's up two classes here and runs from a pound outside the handicap and I expect this to be a bit of a struggle for him.
We don't actually have a great deal of relevant chase handicap form but here's what we do have...
...and if I'm honest that doesn't correlate perfectly with what I've written above actually doesn't show the ones in a great light that I thought would be the main protagonists, although the weight for Zoffee is interesting at 4lbs lower than his last win. Hopefully there's more for us via an assessment of the pace data ...
...which also shows Zoffee in a very good light and doesn't actually favour any of the others.
I feel like I've done half a job here or only achieved half of what I set tout to do, but race analysis is often like this. I chose this race, because it's a Class 2 contest which should be a decent standard and it looked a tight competitive affair where I felt that at least half the field could well lay claims to winning.
For the record, before I starting writing my head was saying it was between Amoola Gold, Ashutor, Before Midnight and Zoffee. After I did the write-ups, I felt the same way, but only Zoffee backed up my thoughts on Instant Expert and via the pace tab.
However, none of the other four have forced their way into my thinking, so I've no real reason to change my opinion. On my own ratings that I standardise to a maximum score of 100, I've got the four separated by just 3.7pts with scores of 75, 73.4, 71.9 and 70.3 and I've got them in this order...
...Before Midnight / Zoffee / Ashutor / Amoola Gold, but there's so little in it that I believe any of the four can win and the four could finish in any order. That seems a little unhelpful, but the data hasn't simplified the race enough for me, so I'll not be advising a bet on the winner here, although at 7/1 Zoffee is the value play and I might just have a small flutter!