We're coming towards the end of the first week of March and Cheltenham is on the horizon, but there's still plenty of racing before the main event. Saturday has six meetings across the UK/Ireland including six Class 1 contests. To assist us in our quest for winners, our free feature of the day is the Trainer Jockey Combo Stats report and our free races are as follows...
- 1.40 Navan
- 2.36 Lingfield
- 2.40 Kelso
- 2.55 Doncaster
- 3.50 Kelso
- 5.15 Doncaster
...and I think I'll tackle one of the day's Class 1 races. Only six are set to run in the race I've chosen, but five of them could win the 2.40 Kelso, so that makes it interesting. the race itself is a Listed Chase which will be around 80yds shy of three miles after rail movements. Six are expected to go to post on good to soft ground in the hope of landing the £25,628 top prize.
Here's the card...
A good quality race here, even if only six are declared. Plenty of experience and ability on show, all bar one have a win in their four starts and out Geegeez ratings top three are only separated by 6pts. I like to standardise them to 100, so in effect the top 3 are 100, 98.2 and 96.4, so a tight call there.
Lake View Lad when landing a soft ground Grade 2 chase at Aintree over 3m1.5f, despite having been off the track for over ten months. This was by far his best run, but was unable to back it up nine weeks later when he could only manage 5th of 6 at Sandown a month ago, beaten by 78 lengths in another Grade 2 contest. The Aintree run says he still has something about him, but that latest effort makes me want to look elsewhere, especially off top weight, where he has a few pounds to find on the likes of Aso and Definitly Red.
Cloth Cap won really well last time out, landing a 3m2f Grade 3 chase by some ten lengths at Newbury back in November with the first-time cheekpieces seeming to do their job, after having had a decent warm-up making the frame at Cheltenham the month before. A repeat of that LTO run puts him right in the mix here, but he's probably at least half a stone out in the weights for me, so he's going to have go some.
Definitly Red won this race last year and was then sent back to his shed for eight months. he reappeared at Wetherby on Hallowe'en and had a bit of a nightmare trailing home 8th of 10 in a 3m0.5f Grade 2 contest, some 80 lengths off the pace. He then needed a decent effort next time out, but fell at Newcastle four weeks later in a Listed handicap chase over today's trip and he hasn't raced since. Fitness and ability will have to be taken on trust after a 14-week break and I think others might be better suited here.
Two For Gold has an impressive 8 wins and 3 places from 15 starts (4w, 3p from 8 over fences!) and just about hung on to make all when winning over 2m4f at Warwick LTO almost three weeks ago in a career-best effort. The way he hung on and his overall chase record will make him popular here, but he only beat the re-opposing Aso by a neck and is now 9lbs worse off for the re-match. He'll need another career best here, but he's only 8 yrs old and has plenty left in him to improve further.
Aso was beaten by Two For Gold last time out, as you now know and is, of course, 9lbs better off today, which could make all the difference. A former Grade 3 chase winner and twice placed in the Gr1 Ryanair Chase at the Cheltenham Festival, he hadn't been the same horse for over a year, but turned the clock back with that run LTO. He has the ability to win this, he's weighted to win this (best in at the weights) so I suppose it's just a case of which Aso turns up.
Cool Mix completes the field and if you consider that he's carrying the same weight as Aso, despite being rated some 27lbs inferior then you see how much of a mountain this race is likely to be. I said at the start that five could win this race, he's the sixth runner! Don't get me wrong, he's not a bad horse and has been running consistently well as shown by his 21333 form over the last year, but the win was at Class 3 and he was only third in a Class 2 last time out. He did admittedly make the frame in a Listed contest at this trip two starts ago, but he's so badly off at the weights here (at least 13lbs out) that I can't consider him.
That's one (Cool Mix) down, just five to decipher now, let's look at chase form, courtesy of Instant Expert...
Aside from Cool Mix's unsuitability for the task ahead, I've not gained much here. Plenty of wins on similar kind of ground, whilst Defintly Red's seven Class 1 wins stands out a mile, even if they're from 23 runs.
Our pace stats for 5 to 7 runner fields on ground ranging from good to soft suggest that other than being held-up, there's every chance of winning from anywhere in the pack...
Sadly for us, this again only serves to rule out Cool Mix...
Two for Gold may well be the one to take it on. His team know that Aso is better off at the weights and they may decide to try and create a gap that Aso might not be able to bridge in the closing stages, Cloth Cap also likes to be up top and so we could see them all go a little quicker than they might normally.
Unusually, the date and graphics don't tell us as much as they often do, but the form and racecard details are very useful today in assessing how this might turn out. Any of five could win this, but some are (in my opinion) more likely than others.
In a six-runner contest, I'm not sure you want my usual "three against the field", but if you did, I'm putting Cloth Cap third. I think he'll feature prominently and has been known to be a bit keen and he's not as good as Two For Gold in my eyes. The danger though this pair is Aso, who'll probably bide his time and catch one if not both of them.
As for the winner, it's a toss up between Aso and Two For Gold. based on that last contest between and the revised weights it's Aso's race to lose, but that race was his first decent effort for some time and Two For Gold is still progressive. My heart says Aso here, but my head says we don't know which horse turns up here, so almost reluctantly it's Two For Gold ahead of Aso (just!) for me.
I've now (6pm) just looked at the market and we all agree, TFG just ahead of Aso with Cloth Cap third. Could have saved myself the time! 😀