Today's highlighted race has yet to run, so I'll move straight to Wednesday where we feature the excellent Trainer Stats report and the full racecards for...
- 1.15 Wolverhampton
- 4.40 Kempton
- 6.45 Kempton
Once again the weather has defeated jumps racing and we've just two A/W meetings to consider. Sadly this lack of action has meant that my fairly strict parameters I impose for my own Trainer Stats report hasn't generated any qualifiers for me to assess for tomorrow, so I'm going to look at what should be the best (and last) of our three featured races, the 6.45 Kempton.
This is a 6-runner, Class 2 Conditions Stakes for 4yo+ and the trip is 6 furlongs on Standard to Slow Polytrack (as is usually the case here at Kempton) with a top prize of £11,827.50. We start, as ever, with the racecard...
Aberama Gold has three Class 2 wins and a Listed class runner-up finish in his last four starts. He comes here seeking an A/W and was only beaten by three quarters of a length in that Listed race at Doncaster, despite the winner (the excellent Dakota Gold) being 11lbs better off at the weights. Aberama is two from two on Polytrack so far, both over 6f at Class 2 and under today's jockey, whilst more generally he's 5/17 with Shane Gray in the saddle, 5/16 at this trip, 4/5 at this grade whilst five of trainer Keith Dalgleish's last 24 races (20.83% SR) here at Kempton have ended in victory.
Above was a runner-up in a Listed contest at Windsor in June, beaten by three quarters of a length and was a runner again last time out, when defying the effects of a six month absence to come within a neck of victory, getting nabbed very late on by an odds-on favourite on Boxing Day. There's a possibility that this race might come a tad too soon for him, but the stats say he is 112 when returning from 1-2 weeks rest. His three career wins have only come as Class 4 (twice) and Class 5 and this is a tougher assignment than LTO, but trainer Archie Watson's horses do go well here, winning 44 of 207 (21.26% SR) here over the past four years.
Brian The Snail was a runner-up last time out, when the above mentioned Aberama Gold denied him a hat-trick of wins. He was only beaten by half a length that day in that Class 2 handicap and now re-opposes 3lbs worse off here which says he shouldn't really be overturning the result. That said, his A/W record is impressive with 3 wins and a runner-up finish over 6f, including a course and distance win here at this grade two starts ago. He's 112 on Std to Slow and has a chance but will need to find something extra to reverse the placings from Lingfield.
Gulliver won a big-field, big-money soft ground handicap (21-runner Coral Sprint Trophy) two starts ago and ran better than fifth place LTO would suggest. He was only beaten by little more than two lengths on the Listed race mentioned earlier won by Dakota Gold, coming home less than a length and a half behind Aberama Gold off level weights. He's actually best off at the weights today and if running to his best would be the one to beat, but he was rated 14lbs higher than Aberama that day, so it's not a given that he'll perform as expected.
Streamline won a Group 3 contest here over course and distance when last seen, but that win is tempered by the fact that he hasn't run since and now returns from 16 months off the track. Jockey Adam Kirby is in really good nick right now (5/12 in the last fortnight), but it might take more than an in-form jockey to get this one home first. On ability, he'd be right up there after his third on a Listed event prior to winning that Group 3. He's 2/2 on the A/W, both here at Kempton, but that lay-off is a worry and will probably be reflected in the market when I check the odds shortly.
Tranchee makes up the six runner field alphabetically, but by no means just makes the numbers up. He has been really consistent since switching to David Loughnane's yard last summer and has since only failed to make the frame once in nine starts and that was when he stumbled/slipped at Catterick. Aside from that aberration he has finished 12212332 for his new yard. I'd say he doesn't quite do enough, as he hasn't won enough of those races for my liking but hasn't been beaten by far. In fact he was only two necks behind Aberama Gold when third three starts ago when not having the closing speed required to hang onto second, never mind win.
At this point, I wouldn't actually rule any of them out of it, but I've concerns over the form of Gulliver's yard (0 wins in 23 from 20th December) and the long lay-off endured by Streamline.
Much of what I've written above can be verified by looking at Instant Expert...
...where Aberama Gold, Brian The Snail and Streamline look the ones best suited, whilst it's two of the other three, Above and Tranchee, who top the Geegeez ratings, showing us exactly how competitive this race is.
In 55 recent similar contests, low draws (particularly stall 1) have fared best, whilst the bulk of the runners have either raced prominently (34.6% of the 344 runners) or have been held-up (33.1%), but the smaller number who have led (just 21.2% of the runners) have proved to be marginally the most successful with only mid-division runners proving to at a disadvantage. We can, of course overlay the draw with the pace stats as follows...
...which would suggest Above would seem to have been drawn best for his running style, whilst only Gulliver and Tranchee look unsuited by the pace/draw combination.
So how do I see this one? Well, from a betting perspective, it's fraught with danger and pitfalls and I actually think it has the makings of a really good contest. To try and eliminate some runners from my consideration, I'm now going to look back at their previous races via the head to head facility within the racecard.
Aberama Gold has beaten Brian The Snail (twice), Gulliver and Tranchee and arrives here in the best of the form. Brian The Snail has beaten Gulliver twice, but Gulliver has beaten Tranchee. So, assuming that Brian holds Gulliver, then Tranchee doesn't beat any of the other three here and is therefore discarded.
I also think that race might be too much for Above, who'll probably try to win it from the front and get overhauled late on and I can't be backing Streamline after such a lengthy lay-off. I've absolutely no doubts about his ability to land this calibre of race and had he been out for a run more recently, I'd be very interested. He's probably as big as 7/1 purely because of the lay-off and if that kind of rest doesn't worry you, then he could well be a big price.
I've finally got it down to three, Aberama Gold, Brian The Snail and Gulliver and I think that's the order I want them in. I do like Aberama Gold here and wasn't contemplating a bet if I'm honest, as I thought he might be shorter than the 5/2 currently available but I'm happy at those odds so I've had a couple of quid there.
Brian The Snail is interesting at 9/1 for place or E/W backers. I can't see him overturning the selection but another run like his last three puts him in the mix late on. To be honest, I've nothing between him and Gulliver other than value of odds. I'm not sure why Gulliver was the early favourite other than by virtue of being better off at the weights. He'll need to make more of an advantage of it this time around.
My final advice, cup of tea (or something stronger if you're now housebound under the new rules), feet up and watch what could eventually be a cracker. Any of the six could win, any of the six could come last, but I've called it how I see it.