Feature of the Day on Thursdays is free access for ALL readers to the Instant Expert tab for ALL races, including, of course, the following free races of the day...
- 3.10 Yarmouth
- 4.45 Leopardstown
- 5.42 Doncaster
- 5.57 Sandown
- 7.30 Leopardstown
- 7.37 Sandown
The highest class of UK race above is at the Racing League meeting in South Yorkshire, where the first on the card is the 5.42 Doncaster, a Class 3, good ground, Flat handicap over 5f for 3yo+ horses. The boosted prize money is a cool £25,770 and these are the runners who will contest it...
Form : Copper Knight, Tenaya Canyon, Autumn Flight, Saaheq, Hey Mr and Ballintoy Harbour have all won at least one of their last six outings, whilst both Irish Acclaim and Many A Star won seven races back. Ballintoy Harbour is the only LTO winner.
Class : Celsius and Hey Mr both drop down from Class 2, whilst Tenaya Canyon, Autumn Flight, Ballintoy Harbour and Saaheq all competed at Class 4 last time out.
Course/Distance : All bar Many A Star, Irish Acclaim and Equitation have won over this trip, but the latter pair have at least won here at Doncaster before, as have former course and distance winners Celsius and Saaheq.
Last run : All ten have raced in the last seven weeks with Copper Knight and Irish Acclaim having just one week's rest.
Copper Knight is one of three seven year olds in the field and he ended an 18-race/22 month losing streak when winning at York in mid-May (the previous win was also at his favoured York!). Sadly he hasn't kicked on from that win, but a drop down in class from his last turf run might help him be more competitive here.
Celsius has made the frame in half of his 16 flat runs to date, winning five times all over today's trip. He's a former course and distance winner too, but hasn't won any of eight races since a success off a mark of 85 almost ten months ago and he remains higher than that mark.
Many A Star had his best spell in his first four runs of last season, finishing 1321, but after a promising third on his new yard/seasonal debut in late April, he has been 11th of 18, last of 8 and 3rd of 6, well beaten in all three and without his claimer from LTO, is effectively up 6lbs.
Tenaya Canyon signed off 2020 with a win over 6f at Newcastle and has a win and two runner-up finishes from five starts this season. She was only beaten by a length here over course and distance last time out, despite being denied a clear run and despite stepping up in class, should go well as Saffie Osbourne's 5lb claim could be very useful.
Autumn Flight won back to back 5f handicaps at Chelmsford in the first 8 days of April and was only denied a hat-trick by a head when subsequently a runner-up here over C&D fifteen days later. He has made the frame three more times from four runs and although up a class and 1lb, he does now have the skills of Frankie Dettori in his favour.
Ballintoy Harbour won over 5f at Pontefract on her second career start almost a year ago and then went back to the shed for eight months. She reappeared at Newcastle to win again and has finished 361 since, getting home by three parts of a length at Newmarket 20 days ago. She's clearly in good nick, but a 6lb rise makes this a tougher prospect and allied to a step up in class, she'll need a career best, although after just six outings, she's the least exposed here.
Irish Acclaim is far better on the A/W (4 from 14), having yet to win from seven attempts on turf. That said, he was second last of twelve on the Tapeta at Newcastle last time out, beaten by almost 12 lengths and he's probably best left alone.
Saaheq has already won three times in 2021, admittedly from thirteen efforts and all the wins were at lower grades than today, but with 6 top three finishes from his last eleven runs, he's going well. He's back down to his last winning mark, but the step up in class might just catch him out.
Equitation has won just four of thirty-five races to date and hasn't won any of his last sixteen outings over the past eleven months. He was never involved at this class/trip last time out and even at 8lbs lower than that last win, you'd be excused for looking elsewhere.
Hey Mr is one of the least experienced here after just seven runs and with a jockey taking 3lbs off bottom mark of 79,he's well weighted here. He had a good progressive 2yo campaign finishing 3321, the last two of which were in handicap company. He was third on his seasonal bow at York in May, but has had two indifferent runs since. If he turns up, he'd have a chance off his current mark, but he hasn't turned up recently.
Feature of the Day is, of course, Instant Expert, a quick intuitive overview of a field's past record over a given set of circumstances, so it'd be rude not to look at it here...
...and if we're honest, that's not a great set of figures over the last two years, is it? Saaheq's record at the trip is lamentable, as is that of Copper Knight, Celsius and Autumn Flight. Saaheq has also struggled at Class 3, as have Celsius (despite a win), Many A Star and Equitation.
I think we're probably going to get more clues/pointers from place form...
...where if anything Copper Knight looks even worse. Ballintoy Harbour and Irish Acclaim don't have enough handicap experience to draw a conclusion, but Saaheq looks weak again despite making the frame at this track. Hey Mr looks interesting from a place angle, notwithstanding his recent poor form.
The Geegeez course description (here) says that Doncaster is arguably one of the fairest courses in the country, with next to no undulations providing excellent racing conditions for horses that can really gallop and eat up the ground. There’s significant draw bias at Doncaster when the ground is soft. Lower numbers tend to perform better, but on faster ground the draw has little bearing on the race outcome. So I would expect our draw stats to back that up...
Stalls 2 and 7 seem to have an anomalous amount of winners, but in terms of making the frame it just seems they've converted into wins more often. Stall seven aside, though, I'd say for E/W bettors, stalls 1 to 4 are where you'd want to be. Yet, if there's little discernible draw bias, what about the way the race is approached? Well, strangely, for a straight 5f on pretty flat ground it appears that you don't want to be a sitting target at the head of the pack and that most winners come from midfield or even further back, although racing prominently is a decent enough tactic for making the frame...
All of which means that the low-drawn mid-division runners have fared best...
...whilst for E/W purposes, any low draw will do, as will a prominent or mid-div running style...
And I can tell you that stall 1 to 4 are to be occupied by Hey Mr, Autumn Flight, Equitation and Celsius, whilst those who have shown a preference for racing in midfield or further back are Celsius, Irish Acclaim, Saaheq and Hey Mr. We can then put all our runners into those heatmaps above to give us an indicator of how they might race in stall order...
The place graphic probably just highlights the fairness of the Doncaster track, as they all look to have a good chance of placing based on pace and draw, but from a win perspective, those in the lower stalls are favoured.
I should remind you that the pace/draw heatmap is just one of the tools available and isn't to be used as a definitive prediction of how they'll finish.
If we deal with the pace/draw angle first, the lower stalls are favoured and of those four, I think that Autumn Flight and Hey Mr would have better chances than the other two. I think Autumn Flight should beat Hey Mr and at 9/1 with Hills paying 4 places, he's of interest as an E/W bet, especially with the irrepressible Mr Dettori on board. I wouldn't put you off Hey Mr at 8/1 E/W, but Autumn Flight is preferred.
That said, I don't see either of them winning and for that, I think it's a close call between the 3/1 favourite Ballintoy Harbour and the 6/1 Tenaya Canyon. Ballintoy is in better form but up in class and weight after only narrowly winning last time out. Tenaya is also up in class and in decent if not quite as good nick, but with a 5lb jockey claim will carry less than 9 stones here and offers better value at the odds.
Hills' 6/1 about Tenaya Canyon might end up looking generous, so that's where I'd want to be.