Yesterday's piece ended up being the proverbial Curate's egg: good in places. The winner came from the two I liked most, even if the one I had a marginal preference for didn't win. Hier Encore was indeed the worst horse in the race and Group Stage did indeed finish third.
The one that I though might be worth a tentative second glance as an E/W possible was last of the six to finish, not far behind the one I'd hoped would win. So, a mixed bag that did at least find the 4/1 winner from the two I struggled to split.
Next up is Tuesday, where the Shortlist Report is open to all readers, as are the racecards for the following races...
- 1.10 Lingfield
- 8.10 Wolverhampton
Only the two A/W meetings have survived the weather and sadly that has taken away any qualifiers for the shortlist, so I'm back on race preview duty and as I'm not a fan of Novice Stakes on the A/W, it's Hobson's Choice today as I'm going took at the 8.10 Wolverhampton : a pretty mediocre looking 12-runner, Class 6 handicap for 3yos on the tapeta.
The winner will receive £2781 for their connections and despite it not looking like a Classic, there has to be a winner, so let's see if the Geegeez tools (starting with the actual racecard) can steer us in the right direction...
Somebody far wiser than me (Matt) said in a video I watched that horses are 20/1 and bigger for a reason, so I'm now going to immediately remove four of the above from my thinking as I expect they'll be that kind of price, so out go The Bay Warrior, Eaux de Vie, Papas Champ and Inspiring Love to leave our card looking a bit more manageable as follows...
Form-wise, only Ladywood has shown any kind of recent form and that was a win LTO 19 days ago at Chelmsford in a 10 furlong Class 6 contest where she beat four of today's rivals by three to eleven lengths. Aside from her 1 in 6 record so far, the other 11 rivals are a combined 0 from 57 with just four placed efforts amongst them. I suppose at least that place stat will improve here.
Baroness Rachael and Princess Elektra look to have the worst recent form, although the latter does now drop three classes for her handicap debut. The other seven under consideration all ran in this grade last time out and all have had the benefit of some rest (17 to 39 days).
Yards in form provide us with Ladywood, Baby Sham and Baroness Rachael, whilst Baby Sham's trainer has a good longer-term record on this track. The trainers of Pocketeer, Ghostly and Classy Dame have all struggled to make much impact at this venue, though and the majority of our jockeys have been amongst the winners of late.
I'm going to disregard the Geegeez ratings here as only four of the eight have run on Tapeta before and none have particularly high ratings. In a similar vein, looking at the win element of Instant Expert isn't likely to help us, but the place stats...
...show that Ladywood's win/place was on the A/W at Class 6 in a similar size of field and that she's up 6lbs for the win. The other three runners to have been placed in the past were all placed on the A/W, but none of the field have any relevant form at either trip or surface. Ghostly and Complexo were both placed at his Class 6 level, whilst Classy Dame made the frame in a Class 5 maiden six races ago.
In fairness/honesty, there's not a lot to be gleaned from Instant Expert, but perhaps the draw and the pace make-up of the race can help us out...
Low draw (1-4) have won 122 of the 341 races and have provided 347 of the 1019 places in similar contests at strike rates of 35.8% and 34.1% respectively, whilst middle drawn (5-8) horses ratios are 32% and 33.6% with those drawn highest (9-12) providing the remaining 32.2% of winners and 32.3% of placers, so I'd not say there was a considerable draw bias.
A quick look at the individual stalls' records...
...says stalls 2 to 6 would be a good place to run from, which is a positive for Pocketeer, Princess Elektra and Baby Sham. And now to the pace stats, that show...
...a clear superiority for prominent runners or hold-up runners. Most runners in these types of races try these tactics which is why they provide most winners, but the few that do try to win from the front win more often than any other tactic. The problem here is that there's no confirmed pace setter which leads me to predict that this contest might be falsely run, although there is the possibility that Ghostly might take it on and try to win from the front as he has (unsuccessfully) in three of his last five starts including LTO over course and distance.
At this point, I've still got eight runners under consideration, but I'm now going to cast four aside that I don't see winning here, namely Baroness Rachael, Classy Dame, Complexo and Princess Elektra based on what we've seen so far. This leaves us with four : Baby Sham, Ghostly, Ladywood and Pocketeer.
Of our final four, Ghostly is going to be the odd one out. I think he'll revert to type and try to win from the front, he'll get swallowed up after 7-8 furlongs and miss out on the places, hopefully leaving my final three to battle it out and they are...
Baby Sham was 6½ lengths behind Ladywood in that 1m2f Nursery at Chelmsford 19 days ago and now wears cheekpieces for the first time on her tapeta debut. Still has a fair bit to find to catch that winner, but she's 9lbs better off at the weights here and could go very well for a yard who is 11 from 46 here at Class 5 or lower since the start of 2018 including a winner with their only runner here today.
Ladywood will be very popular and as the form horse of the race, that's perfectly understandable. She ran on well late on to win last time out, but she's up 6lbs for that run and that will make life tougher here. That was by far her best effort to date and if coming here in the same frame of mind will have every chance.
Pocketeer seems to be improving for every run and is certainly less exposed than Ladywood who beat her by 3¼ lengths last time out. Similar continued improvement gives her every chance of closing that gap now that she's half a stone better off at the weights and if taking to the Tapeta first time out could be one to side with. Jockey Ben Curtis rides her for the first time and he's in cracking form right now.
Had these three been running off the same marks as that Chelmsford race almost three weeks ago, there'd be little reason to think the finishing order would be any different. There were no hard luck stories that day, Ladywood was just better than the other two, but she's now 7-9lbs worse off and that could well even things up.
I don't actually have much separating the three, but the market disagrees. Ladywood is a best-priced 7/4 whilst the other pair are closely matched in the 15/2 and 8/1 area.
Pocketeer is definitely on the rise and with the new weight advantage, she'd be the one I'd back here if getting involved.