Racing Insights

Racing Insights, 7th January 2021

Wednesday's race has yet to run, but Monday's late action saw our three-runner shortlist provide the first and third (two necks behind) horses home. That's history now, of course and it's the future that's of interest here with Thursday looming large.

The free feature of the day is the access to the fantastic Instant Expert data for ALL races, including our highlighted free races of the day, which are...

  • 1.37 Musselburgh
  • 2.15 Southwell
  • 2.28 Ffos Las
  • 3.37 Musselburgh

And with Instant Expert being the feature of the day, I've spotted three runners of interest based on their past aptitude for tomorrow's expected conditions (if that makes any sense), starting with the 3.28 Ffos Las, a 15-runner, Class 5, Handicap Chase for 5yo+ over a 3m slog on heavy ground. The winner will receive a paltry £2989 for their troubles and the one that caught my eye was the 8 yr old gelding, Ballybreen and here's why...

The above figures are obviously excellent and are supplemented by the following...

  • 3 from 9 under jockey Conor Ring
  • 3 from 9 over fences
  • 3 from 7 during January & February
  • 3 from 4 in blinkers
  • 2 from 2 in January
  • and 1 from after 1 to 2 months rest.

He ended last year's chase campaign in early March with a 1.25 length defeat over 3m on soft ground off a mark of 93 and didn't tackle a fence again for almost seven months when last home of eight at Newton Abbot (3m2f, heavy) off a mark of 98. He led until the 16th fence but then faded out of contention and was eventually beaten by the thick end of 40 lengths. He then stepped up in class for 3m, heavy ground Class 4 hurdle contest off a mark of 101 and was pulled up 3 flights from home, so it's fair to say that this campaign hasn't got going yet.

It's quite possible that he needed that first run over fences and that something wasn't quite right in the hurdle race and he has gone well third time out in previous seasons. We should also remember that he finished 111212 in the first 11 weeks of 2020, so he's clearly at this best at this time of year. The blinkers are back on today (1112 in those) and he's back down to a workable mark of 94. That's not a definite winning mark, but it must give him more chance that his recent efforts.

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Will he win? Probably not, if I'm totally honest, but if he's in a "going" sort of mind and runs like we know he can, he'd have every chance of making the frame, assuming we can get four or even five places at a decent (14/1?) price. We'll know more when I check the prices in my summary.

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The next race I want to look at is the 4.20 Wolverhampton, an 11-runner, Class 6, A/W handicap for 3 yo over 1m0.5f on Tapeta. The top prize is £2,782 and the horse I'm looking at is the 4-timer seeking gelding Spirit of Rowdown, whose nine race career looks like this on Instant Expert...

The above numbers speak for themselves, of course, but I'd like to add a few more of my own, such as...

  • 3 from 7 after 12-30 days rest
  • 3 from 7 in cheekpieces
  • 3 from 4 under jockey Charlie Bennett
  • 3 from 4 going left handed
  • 2 from 2 over course and distance
  • 2 from 2 off a mark of 51-60
  • 2 from 2 at odds of 4/1 and shorter
  • 2 from 2 as favourite

He comes here in fine form, of course after winning his last three outings in a 37-day period just before Christmas. He started with a win over a mile at Chelmsford and followed that up with back to back course and distance successes here at Wolverhampton 12 and 37 days later. He's had almost three weeks (seemingly his standard) rest to get over those exertions and is only up 4lbs for his last win. I say only, because he looked to have plenty in hand in all three wins, just doing enough to get home without being hammered by the assessor.

When he won here two starts ago, he was 3.25 lengths clear of the filly, Fast Emma who finished fourth and she has hopefully franked the form by winning in a tight finish at Lingfield yesterday.

Can he make it four in a row? Yes, I think he could, but this would be the toughest test yet and a 4lb rise does make life more difficult. I think he has more to give yet, but nobody knows how much. I don't think he can afford to blow the start like he did two races ago and if I can get 7/2 or 4/1 about him, I'd have to consider a bet.

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But before I get my money out, there's one more to look at in the 7.00 Wolverhampton, which is the 10-runner, seven furlong, Class 4, A/W handicap (tapeta) for 4yo+ runners that Unforgiving Minute will attempt to land the £5,208 purse...

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As expected, Instant Expert shows him in a favourable light and in addition to those numbers above, he is also...

  • 6 from 10 going left handed
  • 5 from 10 at sub-10/1 odds
  • 5 from 9 for trainer Sean Curran
  • 4 from 7 in the months of November to January
  • and 1 from 2 over course and distance.

He might well be 10 yrs old now, but there's no sense of a slowing down from this boy yet. He moved to Sean Curran's yard in the summer of 2019 and has five wins and two third-place finishes from nine starts since, taking his overall A/W record to 15 wins from 43 runs, a fantastic 34.9% strike rate. He was a 33/1 winner at this grade and trip at Lingfield last time out and is up 3lbs for the win, but importantly at his age, he's had 44 days to get over that effort.

He goes off a mark of 81 here today, but is assisted by jockey Grace McEntee's 5lb claim and it's worth noting that he did win here at Wolverhampton off 83 as recently as March. He was very impressive last time out and although life will be made harder for him here this time, has every chance of another good run.

Good enough to win? I think so, but he'd have to run to his recent best, as I think the likely favourite Beauty Choice also has a very good chance. This is by no means a gimme, but I'd expect him to make the frame again here. If I'm going to spend money, though, I'm going to want 6/1 or bigger to make it worth the risk, as it's not always easy to win from the back here at Wolves.

Summary

Three runners who all warrant a second glance based on their Instant Expert data and I'm quite happy to back all three at the right price. Ballybreen is currently available at 18/1, and whilst he's not likely to land the race, he's better than 10th favourite in my opinion, so I'll have a small 4 places E/W bet there.

Spirit of Rowdown won't have it all his own way and will have to beat the considerable challenge of Space Kid to land the spoils but 4/1 is too good a price for me to pass up, so I'm on this one too! This could turn out to be a good contest, as I was semi-interested in Arthur's Angel (16/1) and Cliffcake (10/1) as possible E/W punts.

And finally, I see that Unforgiving Minute is priced at 8/1 with Beauty Choice the favourite as I expected.  The fav is as low as 6/4 in places and I don't think he's nearly four times more likely to win than the old boy. I'm going to hedge my bets and take the 8/1 as an E/W bet, but I won't deter from going win only, if that's your preference.

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