Wednesday's 'feature of the day' is the tremendous Trainer Statistics report, which will hopefully assist you in finding winners across the card, including our free races of the day, which are set to be...
- 1.45 Catterick
- 3.30 Lingfield
- 4.05 Lingfield
- 4.30 Gowran Park
- 6.30 Gowran Park
And today. I think I'll combine the feature of the day with a race of the day and also pay a small homage to SotD as we assess the chances Eric Alston's Captain Corcoran in the 1.45 Catterick. Eric's five-year handicap record at Catterick looks like this...
...and he has just the one runner on the card and the 4 yr old gelding is set to compete in this 8-runner, Class 6, Apprentices Handicap over 5f on Good to Firm ground, that will be good in places and they're watering the track to keep it that way. It's a race for 4yo+ horses, so all should have plenty of relevant experience for us to assess and here's how they line up...
Before I look at the runners in individual detail, let's quickly look at Eric Alston's record here. We already know that since the start of the 2017 season, his handicappers are 13 from 41 (31.7% SR) here at Catterick, but under today's conditions, those 41 are...
- 10 from 24 (41.7%) at odds of 6/1 and shorter
- 9 from 33 (27.3%) from male runners
- 8 from 23 (34.8%) at Class 6
- 6 from 14 (42.9%) after making the frame LTO
- 5 from 12 (41.7%) over this 5f C&D
- 3 from 12 (25%) as 4 year olds
- 3 from 10 (30%) in fields of 6-8 runners
- 1 from 5 (20%) on Good to Firm
- 1 from 2 (50%) in April
- and 1 from 1 in Apprentice handicaps...
...all of which suggests Captain Corcoran might well have a chance here. He now returns to action after a break of some 28 weeks since finishing as a runner-up over 5f at Redcar where he was on the wrong side of the draw/pace, but beat his "section" of the field. Josh Quinn's 3lb claim will be useful here, as he goes off the same mark as last time and he retains the hood in which he has finished 4142.
He won't want the ground any drier than it already is and he might well need the run, but the yard has been amongst the winners over the last month (3 from 9) and if he's ready to go first up, he has every chance here, especially as Eric Alston has a decent record with Flat handicappers winning after a 6 month-plus layoff (1 from 1 this season so far after Jabbarockie's win on Saturday)
And now to the rest of the field, starting with top weight Not On Your Nelly, who has 2 wins and 2 places from 5 handicap runs to date. She's the only filly in the race and is the only other in the race without a recent run, having not been seen for 175 days since being beaten by 2.5 lengths at Nottingham. Faye McManoman retains the ride, but can't claim her usual 5lbs here, so that's going affect the filly's chances off the same mark and the places are probably the best she can hope for here.
Ustath is better than his 0 from 7 Flat record would suggest and has 3 wins and 4 places from 11 starts on the A/W (all at Southwell) since the start of November. He was gutsy stepped up to 7f for the first time three weeks ago, when only beaten by 4.5 lengths and a similar effort off a pound lower could him get involved here.
Harrogate might sound like the champion Arrogate to us Northerners, but that homophone is as close as they'll ever get. This version is 0 from 15 in the last 21 months, making the frame just twice. He has, in fairness, got closer to the winner in his last two starts, going down by just 2 lengths and 1.75 lengths in two 5f runs at Newcastle last month. Unfortunately, his flat mark is 3lbs higher than his last A/W mark, so he's going to have to improve plenty here.
Alsvinder is a former course and distance winner (July 2018), but has failed to score on any of his last twenty runs! He has, however, continued to run creditably in defeat and was only beaten by three parts of a length last time out. That was over 6f off a mark of 70 just 12 days ago and he might be dangerous here off just 57, if 5f isn't too sharp for him and he'll be aide by one of the better apprentices in the form of Billy Garritty.
Blackcurrent has a win and two third-place finishes from his last four runs, all on the A/W at Southwell, but was beaten by the thick end of eight lengths last time out, seeming to toil from 2f out after a 3lb rise to a mark of 52. He goes off the same mark here and with no disrespect intended to today's jockey Gemma Tutty, he won't have the skills/experience of Hollie Doyle in the saddle to coax him on.
Carlovian is much better on turf than he is on the A/W, but a flat record of 7 from 53 isn't earth shattering either. On the Flat, he has run her eat Catterick more times than anywhere else and has won 3 of his 16 visits, but is 0 from 3 over this 5f C&D. In fact, he's just better over 6f and 7f and I don't fancy his chances here.
Bottom-weight Suwaan runs off a feather light 45, but that's probably because he is 0 from 35 since the end of August 2017! And that would make him a write-off for many readers, but closer analysis shows he has made the frame in 11 of his 27 Flat runs, which at 40.7% is a decent return for a horse with just 1 win from those outings. He ahs only been beaten by an aggregate of 6.5 lengths over his last three runs and whilst he's highly unlikely to win here, he could very well surprise a few by making the frame again.
When we look at the entire field as one and consider their career performances across all spheres, this is what we see...
...lots of amber which is promising and a few splashes of green. Our focus horse, Captain Corcoran looks well suited, as do all of the top five in the weights bar Harrogate to be fair with only Blackcurrent looking like one to avoid at this point. The next thing to consider is actual Flat handicap form, with the obvious caveat that none of them have raced on turf for some time...
Here Ustath doesn't look as good as he did, but we expected that from a 0/7 record all at a higher grade than this, but the flip side is that Carlovian's numbers are improved. There are also some very interesting weight differences here with three runners running off marks much lower than their last win.
From a draw perspective, the sweet spot in similar past races has been stall 3, which is more good news for Alsvinder, with those boxed either side also faring well, so ticks for Nellie & Suwaan here...
It is admittedly a fairly small sample size, but we've a rough idea of where we'd want to be, so how to approach a 5f dash here? Well, essentially, lead or race prominently...
and with those draw and pace stats in hand, we can amalgamate them into the pace/draw heat map...
...which basically says low to mid-draw leaders fare best and it can be a struggle from elsewhere. In fact, low drawn leaders have 2 wins and 3 places from 5 runs, so it's now time to superimpose on to the heatmap how recent history suggests our runners will break out from their respective draws and in draw order...
...we could well have a bit of a tear-up on our hands with four of five going at it from the off. There is, of course, the danger that one or more of them does too much early on and opens the door for Alsvinder and Suwaan to pounce late and only Not On Your Nellie looks inconvenienced, although stall 2is almost as good as she could have hoped for.
We started by looking at Eric Alston and his gelding Captain Corcoran and I do like the horse here. He's probably as good as anything he faces in this contest, but I'm just concerned that he'll need the run after 196 days off the track, especially as he was well beaten on his 2020 reappearance after 236 days rest, albeit in a better race than this off a higher mark.
I don't think many will beat him, though, if he does lose and I see the main danger coming from Alsvinder, who has ticked boxes all along and I reluctantly make his my preferred pick here ahead of Captain Corcoran. The market would seem to agree at 5.30pm, installing the two as 11/4 and 7/2 principals, but for my third pick, I've got a feeling that something at bigger odds will cause a surprise and make the frame.
To this end, I'm looking at Suwaan and even Ustath at 17/2 and 11/1 respectively. I don't have much between them but the former just shades it and it looks like he's attracting money already. I won't try to dissuade you from having a small E/W (or win & place at the exchanges) tickle on Ustath, but I just feel Suwaan is marginally better placed.