The free feature on Mondays is totally free access for ALL readers to the pace tab for ALL races, including the following free races of the day...
- 2.20 Perth
- 4.35 Galway
- 4.45 Newton Abbot
- 5.05 Galway
I'm going to focus on the first of that list, which is an open-looking, nine-runner, Class 4, 4yo+, novices handicap chase over three miles on good ground worth £3,594 and here are the contenders for the 2.20 Perth...
The latest results for these nine have been patchy, but Staple Head, Grageelagh Girl and Doldrum Way probably shade it over the others with the likes of Frau Georgia and Grumpy Boots not finishing races as often as they'd like. Staple Head drops in class here and Bolbec & Grageelagh Girl both ran in this grade LTO, but the other six all step up in class. None of the field have won over this trip before and only Grageelagh Girl & Frau Georgia have tasted victory here at Perth before.
It has been over ten months since Grumpy Boots last graced the track, but the other eight have all been out at least once in the last six weeks. Trainers in form run Grageelagh Girl & Fresh New Dawn with the latter's jockey also riding well, as are those aboard Folks Like Us & Grumpy Boots. Trainers with good course records send Staple Head, Grageelagh Girl, Frau Georgia & Fresh New Dawn with the first three of those four horses being ridden by jockeys with a good track record here, as do those on Doldrum Bay & Grumpy Boots.
Bolbec carries top weight of 12-01 and that seems a lot to carry for a horse who has made the frame just once in six attempts over fences. His jumping has let him down of late, leading him to fail to complete two of his last three over fences and with this 3m trip set to test his stamina beyond 2m6.5f for the first time, his jumping might become a bit ragged once more.
Staple Head failed to complete a couple of 3m Hunter Chases in March/April prior to landing a 2m4f handicap at Market Rasen in mid-June. He has since raced twice here at Perth over course and distance, finishing 3rd of 7 (bt by 6.5L) at Class 4 and then he was last of 5, over 30 lengths adrift at Class 3. Both runs were off marks of 110 and he's 2lbs lower now, but I'm not convinced he gets three miles.
Grageelagh Girl is the older of the two mares in the race and she was pretty consistent over hurdles last year without winning. She then scored in a couple of PTP contests this and was only beaten by two lengths on her return to chasing in July (Newton Abbot, 3m2f). She ran better than the bare result suggests last time out when 11 lengths off the winner at Stratford over an inadequate trip. She has ran well here at Perth in the past in bumper/hurdle races and off a career-low mark could be dangerous.
Frau Georgia has more letters than numbers in her form from the last eight starts PP4PU35U (P5U over fences), but in her defence she was going well last time out but got hampered causing her to lose her rider and previously she was 5th here over course and distance with every chance 2 out, but tackling 3m for the first time took its toll and she faded from contention. Having now tried 3m, she needs to avoid trouble to be in the running here.
Fresh New Dawn, like all bar Staple Head here, has yet to win over fences, but his eight efforts have included some decent performances including a pair of runner-up finishes last year. He looked like he needed the run after 226 days off last time out and if he handles the step up in trip, could be one to consider off a low mark, 5lbs lower than his hurdles win and 4lbs lower than LTO.
Gun Merchant was a decent enough bumper/hurdler in Ireland for Gordon Elliott, but the transition to UK chasing hasn't quite gone the same way, although he has finished third in two of his last four and with a form line reading 63563 at trips of 3m and beyond, he might well be staying on when others struggle.
Folks Like Us won a 2m5f handicap hurdle at Kelso last October, but that's the only time he's made the frame in eleven career starts and he has struggled in three runs off higher marks since the win. His run at Sedgefield LTO was blighted by jumping errors, which isn't ideal preparation for a chase debut, as he also tackles 3m for the first time.
Doldrum Bay is a 10 yr old who has only raced nine times since finishing 7th of 17 on debut on Boxing Day 2015. His form in 2016/17 wasn't good at all and he was then off the track for 4 yrs and 2 months, before returning for new handlers in 3 course and distance runs here between 1st July and 14th August. Those runs saw him finish 5th of 14 (25L) over hurdles on his comeback, 2nd of 9 (13L) on chase debut and then 3rd of 12 (15L) back over hurdles LTO. Tough to call really, two placed finishes but well beaten both times, more needed here up in class.
Grumpy Boots was fairly abject over hurdles finishing 8th of 9 (58L), 6th of 8 (51L) and last of 7 (67L) and hasn't really fared much better over fences, although his 59L average margin of defeat over hurdles was reduced to 21 lengths in his first three over fences, he has since been pulled up in his last two. He's also up in class, returning from a long break and runs from 5lbs out of the handicap : difficult to like here.
With this field winning just once between them from forty-five efforts over fences, Instant Expert's win stats won't tell us much, other than how often they've failed under today's conditions...
...but the place side of things might give us more of a clue...
And I think that Fresh New Dawn looks the least worst of them there, but there's little to write home about anywhere.
And now for feature of the day, the pace tab. This tells us that leaders win more than their fair share of 8-10 runner handicap races, but those sitting in just behind the leaders fare best of all. Perth has proven to be a difficult place to win from if you're sat any further back, even over these longer trips...
As you're now probably aware, we log the running styles of every runner, so we can now show you their average pace position based on their last four runs...
Staple Head is an out and out leader with four scores of four including his win three starts ago, whilst the next three in the pace chart all have 2 scores of 3 and a 4 in their last four runs. Prior to looking at pace, I had these four in my top five for the race, along with Frau Georgia, who I still think has the potential to make the frame, but I'm now overlooking her based on pace.
Having semi-reluctantly discarded Frau Georgia at the last stage, I think I'm going to go with the four at the head of the pace scores and with prominent racers doing better than actual leaders, I'm going to omit pacemaker Staple head from my final three, leaving me alphabetically with Fresh New Dawn, Grageelagh Girl and Gun Merchant.
I like the way the mare has ran the last couple of times and now off a lower mark of 106, it could well be Grageelagh Girl's time to shine and her current 5/1 odds look fair and she might go off a bit shorter than that, so I'll have a nibble at 5's.
Of the other two, I think Fresh New Dawn's Instant Expert numbers tip the balance as my next best and at 9/1, he could be worth a small E/W tickle, whilst the market completely disagrees with me looking at Gun Merchant because he's the 12/1 outsider. I think that he could surprise a few people by staying on into the places when others struggle with the trip, so I'm going to play him at 12/1 E/W too.
So, a strange one here. Some days I do my analysis and walk away with no bet, but today I'm hedging with three! Good luck to all of you, whatever way you decide to play this one.