Tuesday's free feature is the Shortlist report, a simple – and usually brief – report highlighting those horses with a largely ‘green’ profile in the Instant Expert Report each day. And as well as a free feature each day, we also open up a number of racecards to all readers free of charge, irrespective of membership status and for Tuesday, these are...
- 3.20 Wolverhampton
- 3.35 Pontefract
- 4.25 Roscommon
- 6.35 Brighton
- 7.15 Uttoxeter
The Shortlist report...
...only has one runner (As High Say) of real interest to me and she's likely to be an odds on favourite in a small field, so I'll revert back to the list races above.
Of that list of free races, the grandly titled King Richard III Handicap is the highest rated. It's on your cards as the 3.35 Pontefract, a 9-runner, Class 2, 3yo+ flat handicap over 6f on Good to Soft ground. The prize is £10,308 and here are the runners and riders...
On paper, it's a pretty open looking contest between a bunch of horses who don't appear at first glance to be in the best of form and I initially get a feeling that this wouldn't look out of place at Class 3! That said, six of them did race at this grade last time out with Corinthia Knight & Golden Apollo stepping up one grade and Brian The Snail taking two steps up.
All ninve have won over 6f previously, whilst Mondammej, Corinthia Knight, Golden Apollo, Danzan and Brian The Snail are all former Pontefract winners with the last three of those five also having won over course & distance at the same time.
Hey Jonesy is rated highest (100) by the assessor and he also tops the Geegeez SR figures kindly licensed to us by Dr Peter May of pjmracing.co.uk We'll now look at the race a little closer to see if I agree with them!
Hey Jonesy last won just over a year ago when landing a 22-runner handicap at this class/trip and has raced six times since without too much joy, but has shown signs of a possible return to form recently, as his last two runs have seen him beaten by just 1.75 lengths and 2.25 lengths, both off today's mark of 100, but he now has a jockey claiming 7lbs, which could be the route back to the winners' enclosure for him.
Aberama Gold won his last two races of 2020, both at this class/trip, but on the A/W of Chelmsford & Lingfield. Since then he is 0 from 9 in 2021, having made the frame just twice and was soundly beaten by 20 lengths at Ascot when 20th of 21 in the Wokingham.
Barbill, like the two above him, also featured in the Wokingham at Royal Ascot and whilst comfortably clear of Aberama Gold in 9th place, he was still more than 5 lengths and three places further back than Hey Jonesy. His own last win was back in August last year and whilst he could make the frame, I don't see him winning based on form.
Mondammej won here over 5f at this grade back in April and although he hasn't won since, he has made the frame in three of five runs. He was a runner-up at Newcastle last time out in a 14-runner contest and despite going down by 2.5 lengths, he was the "winner" from his side of a split field. he's only 1lb higher here and must have a decent shout.
Corinthia Knight is also a former course winner who is up just 1lb after making the frame last time out. He was only beaten by a head and a neck in a tight 3-way finish over course and distance 16 days ago and although an extra pound isn't much, he does also step up in class here. Like Barbill earlier, I think he could get involved without quite winning it.
Flying Pursuit has been around the block a few times (68 races to date) and he won his penultimate start of 2020 and also his first run in 2021, albeit both at lower classes and weight than today. he was only fourth of eight at this class/trip last time out and off the same mark but without the aid of a 5lb jockey claim, I think he might struggle.
Golden Apollo has won here over course and distance, but that was at Class 3 over four years ago and he hasn't won any of his last nine outings since landing the Ayr Silver Cup back in September 2019. A mark of 86 shouldn't technically be beyond him, but he's not one to rely on and his form isn't great.
Danzan is also a former C&D winner, but that was (a) his sole win from 20 starts on turf, (b) just his third career start and (c) a fortnight shy of four years ago. His last win anywhere was in February 2018 and although he's now 21lbs lower than that win, I don't him snapping a 25-race losing streak here.
Brian The Snail completes the line-up, carrying bottom weight off a mark of just 83 and he, too, is a former C&D winner. In fact he's two from two here at Pontefract, having won over 5f and then 6f either side of 5f win at Catterick, as he started his 50-race career with a hat-trick from September 2016 to April 2017. He hasn't been back here in over four years, but now returns off the back of a decent 4th of 14 at Chester when beaten by just over four lengths off 2lbs higher. He's up two classes here, but based on weight and his last run, he could go well here too.
From the above and other things I've read about these, my initial leanings are towards Barbill, Brian The Snail, Corinthia Knight, Hey Jonesy and Mondammej in alphabetical order, but let's see what we can glean from the racecard tools, starting with Instant Expert...
The two over-riding things here for me are that there's a hell of a lot of red on there and that those who have raced in handicaps here at Pontefract in the past have done well. Barbill's figures look the most consistent above, but due to the vast swathes of red, we should look at place records...
...which are a little more encouraging. Of the five I originally leant towards, Barbill fared well on the win front, but it looks like win or bust for him. Brian The Snail has abject figures at Class 2 and hasn't been great over 6f, Corinthia Knight is lightly tried under these conditions but has done well enough, Hey Jonesy doesn't look as strong as I thought he might, but isn't too badly treated on weight compared to his last win, whilst Mondammej's place figures are very good.
Let's look at the draw over 6f at Ponty...
There's a clear split there and being drawn in the middle doesn't look like good news, but maybe the stats for individual stalls will give us a better indication...
If, as usual, we count stalls 9 & 10 as one entity with a 2 from 17 (11.76%) win record and 7 from 17 (41.18%) place record, then I'm going to say that it's stalls 3 to 5 that need avoiding, which doesn't help the chances of Corinthia Knight, Brian the Snail or Aberama Gold. The stall 3 figures in particular are very strange with the next stall faring so well. Stall 5 has also fared worst from a place perspective.
The pace stats also make for interesting reading...
Prominent racers fare slightly (10%) better than you'd expect and they make the frame on almost 42% of occasions. Any further back in the field and it becomes really hard to even make the frame, never mind actually win! Leaders, however, do really well here and that's the tactic you'd want to see your runner adopt irrespective of draw. But what we've found in races lie this is that leaders are often drawn low (11 of 19 leaders have come from low draws) and that hold-up horses rarely come from low draws (just 9 of 45) and that the best pace/draw make-up is the low drawn leader, preferably from stalls 1 or 2 , I'd assume...
And this is how our field fits into that grid, based on their last few runs...
I still think that Barbill, Brian The Snail, Corinthia Knight, Hey Jonesy and Mondammej are the just over half of the field I want to be with, but none are perfect here, of course. None are in sparkling form, but Mondammej has been running the best of them lately.
Barbill fared well on Instant Expert and has a good draw in stall two and the only thing I'd need him to change would be the necessity to race a little closer to the pace here. Brian the Snail has a really poor record (2 from 32) at Class 2 and hasn't made the frame in 8 starts on Good to soft ground, so he's out now. Corinthia Knight has the dreaded 3rd stall, but with neither Barbill nor Golden Apollo inside him showing any propensity to lead, he quickly grab the rail and almost be the stall 1 runner and his pace/draw make-up is excellent. In a preverse way, he hasn't raced under these conditions enough to be deemed a failure, so that's a sort of positive too if you like.
Hey Jonesy isn't out of it on a mark of 100 even though he is top weight here, but he's poorly drawn. Ideally he'd need to get out quicker, but attempting that was his undoing last time out and he has a faster starter immediately inside him. His Instant expert figures weren't the best and he's unreliable, so he's gone too and now to Mondammej. He brings the best form to the table, has a good draw out wide in 9 where he can keep out of trouble and he's a hold-up horse which often works from wide here at Ponty. He's greened up on the Instant Expert place stats and all things combined, he's the one I'd back here.
So, it's Mondammej at 4/1 for me here with the equally priced Corinthia Knight and the 9/1 Barbill as my placers. I don't actually have much between those two and I'll probably also take a small E/W on Barbill at 9's.