A good end to the week for us with a 9/1 winner in the shape of Parent's Prayer on the Derby card. She won impressively, making all from start to finish and staying on well to the end. I'd said she'd like the softer ground and the pace tab told us that leading was the best tactic. Put the two together and we were never going to be far wrong. The icing on the cake came in the shape of her being sent off at 4/1, meaning we got some real value from our bet.
We don't, however, rest on our laurels at Geegeez after a good day, just as we never get too downbeat after a poor one and that's because there's always another day to tackle. Monday racing is generally not great, but the afore-mentioned Pace tab is free to all readers for all races to give us some assistance, whilst the fulle free racecards are for the following races...
- 1.00 Leicester
- 2.35 Listowel
- 3.20 Gowran Park
- 3.30 Leicester
- 3.35 Listowel
- 8.30 Windsor
I had a quick flick through the cards and the second of the Leicester races looked interesting at first glance. Not the best race, but it looks competitive for the grade. Bookies should pay three places too, so there could also be an E/W angle in the 3.30 Leicester, an 8-runner, Class 4, 4yo+, flat handicap over a mile on good to firm ground that is expected to be good in places. The prize is £4,347 and these are the runners trying to land it...
Form : Only Cruyff Turn, Visibility, Wolflet and Moretti have won any of their last five outings and we've no LTO winners on display here
Class : Cruyff Turn and Wild Hope both ran at this Class 4 grade last time out, but the other six are all stepping up from Class 5.
Last run : Cruyff Turn, Wild Hope and Wolflet have been seen in the last three weeks. Moretti and Visibility have had short 8/9 week rests and Malvern last raced 16 weeks ago. We haven't seen Mr Tyrell in almost six months and it's over 8 months since Top Secret graced a track.
Age/Sex : Five of the eight are aged four with Wild Hope (5), Moretti (6) and Mr Tyrell (7) the older horses. Wolflet and Moretti are the only females here.
Course/Distance form : No previous winners here at Leicester, but Cruyff Turn, Wild Hope, Wolflet and Moretti have won at this 7f trip.
Trainer/Jockey form : Top Secret's yard seem to be in good form (14), whilst the handlers of Mr Tyrell and Malvern both have good long-term records at this venue (C5). We've a trio of in-form jockeys (Top Secret, Mr Tyrell, Malvern), but Tom Eaves (Wild Hope) could do with a change in fortunes. Ryan Moore (Mr Tyrell), Hollie Doyle (Wolflet) and David Egan (Moretti) have good Leicester records.
Weight/SR spread : The handicapper says there's a 21lb spread in ability here, whilst the SR ratings have a 27pt spread with the suggestion that it could be tight between Wolflet, Vsibility and Moretti.
Cruyff Turn carries top weight of 9-11 off a mark of 82 here, the same mark as he ran from last time out thirteen days ago when only 8th of 9, beaten by 17 lengths over 1m1f at Musselburgh on soft ground. He dis win off 77 two starts ago also over a trip further than a mile and it's interesting that he drops back to 7f for the first time in 5 races/9 months since winning at Redcar off 72. He only won narrowly that day and I think he's better over further than today and off a mark in the 70's.
Wild Hope won a 1m Class 4 handicap at Doncaster in late July of 2020 off today's mark, which should be a positive, but that's his only decent performance on turf in eight efforts stretching back to early August 2019. He has also failed to win any of five A/W starts since that turf win and with jockey Tom Eaves also struggling for form, this one doesn't appeal to me.
Top Secret has only raced three times so far and was 6th of 11 on handicap debut over 6f at Kempton off a mark of 77 some 256 days ago. Since then he has changed yards and reappears off 2lbs lower, but up in trip, up in class and running on turf for the first time. He could be anything, but I wouldn't want to get involved today.
Mr Tyrell hasn't been seen for almost six months and when he did last race, he was only 6th of 12 over a mile at Kempton at a lower grade. Hasn't won any of his last 17 starts in 25 months and has won just 2 of 40 to date. I think he'll be 2/41 this time tomorrow.
Visibility is 0 from 4 on turf and hasn't quite kicked on from winning at Wolverhampton at the end of February, losing all four since, but not getting disgraced in any of them. He has gone down by around 4 lengths in each of his last two on turf, fading late on each time and a drop in trip/mark might get him closer to winning here, but he'd need things to fall his way.
Wolflet looks (on paper, at least) to be the best of this bunch and this young filly was a winner over this trip at Lingfield just three starts ago and was a runner-up over course and distance here last time out. The winner that day has since only been beaten by 1.75 length at this class/course/distance/going off a mark of 80, so Wolflet's lowly 65 could be lenient, not withstanding her 0 from 6 record on grass.
Malvern opened his career with a pair of wins in Good to firm, Class 5, 6f, novice contests in July/August 2019, but that appears to have been his peak! Since then he has finished 20/20, 17/17, 14/16, 13/13, 7/9 and 7/11 as he has slid from a Class 2 mark of 86 to a Class 5 run off 67 LTO. He's dropped another 3lbs here and has a 3lb claimer on board, but the step up in class is a concern after a near four month break and losing is habit-forming. I'll be surprised if he beats many/any here.
Moretti has won two of her last five, both by less than a length off marks of 58 in Class 5 handicaps over this 7f trip. That's probably her level, as she's 0 from 10 any higher than 58, so 61 here might be a bag and a half of sugar too much. A bit like the lager that shares her name, Moretti looks OK here, but not special.
When I first started writing this piece, one of the things I said was that it looked competitive. I still maintain that thought, but it does look like being a contest to see who can be the least poor. 75% of this field are stepping up from Class 5 and most of them can't win at that level, so Lord alone knows what they're doing here. At present, I've got this as Wolflet's to lose and then a scrum for the places behind. I'm expecting the Instant Expert numbers to be painful reading, so let's torture ourselves by looking...
In fairness, the overall tallies above aren't as bad as I feared they might be, but we should now dig down and look at relevant Flat handicap form...
Both of the above would appear to throw a spanner in the works for Wolflet off an admittedly small sample size and there's some interesting blocks of green for the likes of Cruyff Turn and Wild Hope on the going and Moretti's 7f record in Flat handicaps (albeit off marks in the 50's).
In similar previous contests, stall 6 has an unusually poor record, but if we ignore that, then there's really no discernible draw bias for an 8-runner handicap over 7f on good to firm/good ground, as shown here...
Which, of course, means that race positioning / pace may well be the key to horses winning or losing here today. Our data from the races above is a little clearer/helpful here. The basic premise of a 7f handicap here at Leicester is what a doorman might say to an unruly drinker "Get out and stay out!"
Essentially the quicker you get away from the stalls and the further forward you race, the more chance you appear to have of winning/making the frame...
And that is particularly true for those drawn middle to high in the stalls, whilst low drawn runners fare better tucked in behind the leaders...
We can (and will!), of course, use the data available to us from these horses' past outings to make an informed guess as to how they might tackle this contest and when we arrange the field into draw order and superimpose it onto the heat map we can almost get a bird's eye view of how the race might unfold. The caveat here of course is that these are unreliable runners who might change tactics, especially as their current ones aren't particularly successful. But here's how our data suggests they'll run...
There really doesn't seem to be much pace in the race at all. Based on their last four outings, only Wolflet has set the pace and her default positioning is prominent. I'd expect her to take this on today and she could well have the race won quite early if she opens up enough daylight between her and the pack. I said earlier that it initially looked like hers to lose with a scrum behind her. That's also what the pace tab says.
It looks like Wolflet's race to lose, but I don't think she's very good yet : she's just the least bad of a fairly bad bunch. This is really an average Class 5 contest masquerading as a Class 4 and that's where Cruyff Turn and Wild Hope might profit. They have decent enough records at this grade and the latter has won off today's mark. When I was compiling the piece, I was thinking that the likes of Visibility and/or even Mr Tyrell might be the ones best placed to make the frame, but I'm going to side with Class here.
Wolflet is my winner here with Cruyff Turn and Wild Hope as my tentative picks for the places. Both placers are proven at this grade, the former has a good pace/draw make-up and the latter might be overpriced.
Wolflet is available at a best priced 5/2, which is just about reasonable. She's as short as 6/4 in places but I wouldn't want to play at those odds. Cruyff Turn is 11/2 and Wild Hope is at 10's generally. I'll have an E/W nibble at those odds.