Friday's free feature is the fabulous Horses for Courses (H4C) report, which shows the full course history since 2009 of any horse running that has previously had a run at the track. It is sorted by number of wins, but this can be changed to any column at your own discretion. As well as today’s race time, course, horse name, jockey and trainer name, there is a breakdown of runs, wins and places, and profit and loss calculations for both win and each way betting.
We also have half a dozen full free racecards for you and they are...
- 4.10 Brighton
- 5.00 Tipperary
- 5.52 Haydock
- 6.38 Newmarket
- 6.52 Haydock
- 7.00 Tipperary
My fairly exacting criteria for the H4C report mean that I've no qualifiers for Friday, so I'll revert to the free races for my column today and and the best of the UK races (on paper, at least) is the one from HQ, the 6.38 Newmarket. It might well only have 6 runners, but it's a £13,500 Class 2 3yo+ flat handicap on ground expected to be good to firm, as you'd hope for in early August. They're watering to keep it that way and here are the six (was seven) runners racing over a mile and a half for the prize...
A good-looking, if small, field for this one and all six have recent wins to their name, but the lower half of the card appears to be in the better form and Volcanic Sky's three donuts look a worry at first glance. Boss Power and State of Bliss both step up in class and the latter was seen most recently, having raced just a week ago. The others won't be rusty though, as all have been out in the past 20 to 37 days.
Bottom weight State of Bliss receives 18lbs from Zabeel Champion thanks to a huge 10lb weight for age allowance, something trainer Mark Johnston often exploits, whilst our Geegeez SR figures suggest a tight battle. The list of trainers looks like a mini-who's who and all have green positive icons by their names, whilst the jockeys aboard Zabeel Champion & Makram race well here and are in good nick.
Zabeel Champion has 6 wins and 2 places from 11 on the Flat and despite a big (21L) defeat last time out at this trip/class, will be a contender here. He has raced on soft/heavy on his last two outings but prior to those he landed a hat-trick of wins culminating with a C2, 1m4f win on the Rowley track here at HQ. Now back on quick ground (2 from 3 on Gd to Fm), we should see him in a truer light.
Global Heat proved he was no mug in the winter of 2018/19 finishing 2321 and then was only beaten by a neck over 1m2f at Chelmsford last September coming back from 496 days off track. Sadly, he was then off track for another 266 days prior to being pulled up in this year's Queen Alexandra Stakes at Royal Ascot and then finished last of 12, beaten by 37 lengths last time out. He'll be nearer the back than the front, I suspect.
Volcanic Sky is also likely to be at the wrong end of the results sheet, based on his form since coming back to the UK. He actually won a Group 3, 1m6f race at Meydan just over five months ago, but in two UK runs this summer, was last of 13 (52 lengths) in the (Listed) Wolferton Stakes at Ascot and then 11th of 15 over 1m6f here four weeks ago.
Boss Power is 2 from 4 this year so far, but that's 2 A/W wins and 2 turf losses, although he was a runner up over this trip in a Class 3 contest at Leicester off a mark of 89 four months ago. His win last time out was a career best at Kempton, but he might now be vulnerable up in class and weight (+5lbs) to a mark of 96 after winning by a length and a quarter.
Makram had a good 2020, winning two of five starts with a runner-up finish on debut for good measure. He looked like he needed the run when beaten by a couple of lengths over a mile here at HQ (Rowley, though) in April after 234 days rest, but has 2 runner-up berths and a win since that day, staying on well over 1m2f in all three. The step up in trip should suit him, but he too is up 6lbs, but did win in this grade fairly comfortably LTO.
State of Bliss is the only 3 yr old in the contest and as such receives a whopping 10lbs allowance, but I fear he'll need it if he's to win here. He landed a 7.5f novice race at Chester second time out, last September but is winless in six since, but always in the first three home. He has that unlikeable knack of finding one (or two) just a little bit too good for him, as typified by his three runner-up finishes in July, beaten by half a length, a short head and a neck respectively. His last runs have been off a mark of 84, but he's now up to 86 despite not winning and I suspect he'll find one or two to beat him again here.
That's a general overview of the runners, littered with some stats and my own thoughts, but relevant race data in similar races looks like this...
You don't need me to tell which one catches the eye there, so my other observations are that Makram & Volcanic Sky haven't quite got on top enough at this grade, although the former has been placed in two of his three defeats. State of Bliss is 0/4 at both the going and the field size, but has actually finished 3322 in them. Zabeel Champion and Makram are 3lbs and 6lbs higher than their last wins, which is understandable but there are three huge differentials of 16 to 25lbs on that graphic, because they date back to last turf wins. They've raced and won off higher marks on the A/W but that TLD column deals with whatever surface the current races are on.
The pace here on the July course in 1m4f handicaps is very important. You essentially want to lead or be very close to the leaders, as seen here...
...where prominent runners/leaders have landed 23 of the 28 contests. As for the draw, there general feeling is that a low draw works best, but you don't want to be trapped on the rail. I've expanded the field size parameters to 5-7 runners to give me a slightly bigger sample size...
...as usual, I'll treat stalls 6 and 7 as one entity with 11.11% winners and 26.67% placers and the takeaway here is that you ideally want boxes 2 to 4 or possibly 2 to 5. This draw bias allied to the need to race up front is best shown in the pace/draw heatmap as follows...
..whilst the corresponding chart showing the draw for this race and our runners' past running styles looks like this...
It looks like Zabeel Champion and State of Bliss will attempt to force the pace. There are three horses between them, so I suspect Zabeel might well drift slightly away from the rail, whilst Bliss will come across to join him. It could then be a bit of a bunfight in behind them, but Makram has raced prominently in the past, so he might want to keep a closer eye on the leaders here.
All the way through, I've favoured Makram, Zabeel Champion and State of Bliss as my 1-2-3 here, but I'm now thinking that back on quicker ground off an unchanged mark and looking likely put some distance between him and Makram that Zabeel Champion might well be the one to side with here. I can't advise State of Bliss, as losing becomes habit-forming and despite receiving weight, he might not repel Makram late on either.
Either way, I expect a tight affair, but if I stick my neck out it's Zabeel Champion for me and close for second between Makram and State of Bliss. Much will depend on how far back Makram sits.
Zabeel is a 3/1 shot and I think that's fair, whilst State of Bliss' 13/2 ticket is almost tempting enough for a small E/W or place bet.