Other than predicting a very close race where any of the 6 runners could win and any of them could finish last, I didn't get much right else right about Wednesday's race.
Tranchee looked held by the three I thought would dominate but was well backed in to 11/8 and won. Gulliver was my third choice and I was right that he wasn't a 9/4 horse, as he went off at 9/1. That, however, was massive for a runner-up berth. beaten by just half a length. The two I thought would land me the forecast were only 5th and 4th in a tight contest where all six were within two lengths of each other.
Ffos Las foul of the weather today, leaving us with just two to consider from Wolverhampton's meeting and I'll bring you details of the 7.00 race tomorrow. The 4.20 race featured Spirit of Rowdown, about whom I was happy to take 4/1. The market didn't like him and he drifted out to 13/2 but ran very creditably to finish third. I said that Space Kid was a danger and he finished a short head in front of us with Uncle Dick winning by half a length.
But now to Friday, where the free feature is the Horses for Courses report and our free racecards will cover the following...
- 12.40 Newcastle
- 3.40 Newcastle
- 4.15 Southwell
- 4.30 Dundalk
- 6.30 Dundalk
None of the above races float my boat and there's not very much on the horses for courses report under the parameters I require, so I'm going to turn to the cards for inspiration.
Two of the three UK meetings are just A/W bumpers that hold no interest at all, so Hobson's Choice is Southwell. Hopefully they'll have at least one competitive race on the card that doesn't feature a short priced fav! And that has now led me to have a look at the last UK race of the day, the 7.15 Southwell. Now it's only a Class 6 handicap worth £2,782 where the seven runners have a poor combined record of 1 win in 39, but it does look a pretty even contest that could be interesting to watch.
So let's start with the racecard...
With a field with 1 win in 39 before this race, there's not much winning form to go off, of course. Vitalline was the one to win three starts ago, whilst both Professor Galant and Gaelic Secret have been placed recently, whilst The Gloaming, True Contendor and Soberton have never made the frame in nine combined starts.
Gaelic Secret and Upside Down were both beaten in this grade last time out, but The Gloaming, Vitalline and True Contendor all raced at Class 5 LTO, whilst Soberton actually drops two classes for her handicap debut. True Contendor is also a handicap debutant here, as is The Gloaming, whilst Professor Galant made her debut last month.
Soberton hasn't been seen for over ten weeks, but the other six runners have raced within the last month or so.
From a trainer perspective, none of these runners hail from a particularly in-form yard and although Iain Jardine's (The Gloaming) last 21 runners have all been beaten, he is 11 from 48 (22.9% SR) in Southwell, Class 5/6, A/W handicaps since the start of 2017.
Jockey-wise, PJ McDonald (Gaelic Secret) is highlighted for landing 2 wins and 3 places from his nine rides so far this season, whilst Richard Kingscote has won 7 of 24 already this year and made the frame on a further 8 occasions, so he's going very well right now. He also has a 28.3% strike rate in Class 4 to 6 handicaps at this track since the start of 2016 (13 from 46 at an A/E of 1.52).
The Geegeez Speed ratings show pretty low figures, as you'd expect from such a moderate contest. A lack of fibresand experience is the reason behind True Contendor and Soberton having little/no score, whilst there's not a great deal to separate the other five.
We know that these runners aren't winners normally, but maybe the place aspect of Instant Expert can help us separate the chaff from the dross...
...or maybe not! At least we see that Professor Galant, Gaelic Secret, Vitalline and Upside Down do have some form on the A/W with the latter three of that quartet all having placed in this grade (Professor Galant actually has two Class 5 runner-up finishes!) We've two runners to have made the frame on this track, but no discernible form at 5 furlongs!
Rudimentary draw stats in 6-8 runner contests over 5f on Std to Slow here suggest that runners drawn in stall 4 or higher would have a better chance than those in boxes 1-3...
... whilst this type of contest suits those who lead from low to middle draws. Those drawn highest often fare best if raced prominently tucked in behind the leaders, as seen here...
If we then overlay the past running styles of our seven competitors, we end up with this potential race layout...
I've based this on their last three runs, because three of the field only have three runs and the pace prediction is for possible lone speed from Professor Galant, who might try to make all.
This would be an ideal tactic were she drawn a little lower, but none of these have the perfect pace/draw combo for this contest. If she does attempt to set the pace, there's a possibility that Gaelic Secret might go with her and that would be a good move based on the above. That also raises the possibility of widest drawn True Contendor following the leader into a more prominent position and entering "the green zone" too.
All of this is supposition, of course, as we're dealing with unreliable horses, who've failed using their previous tactics, so they might run the race very differently and that's an interesting warning that sometimes we have to look beyond the raw data.
So, have I got a winner from this? Not exactly, I'll need a closer look at them first.
Professor Galant is a pound lower than when fifth here over C&D LTO but she'll need to perform better this time if she's to win. That said, she has been a runner-up here as recently as two months ago. Trainer & jockey have 3 wins and 3 places from 15 together, whilst the yard is 19 from 68 (27.9% SR) on this track with sub-7/1 runners since the start of 2015.
Gaelic Secret has raced just five times previously, but has finished third three times already, including once at this trip, once in this grade (twice at C5) and once on the A/W. She makes a fibresand debut here today, but did adapt well to a new surface last time out. She might not win this one, but she'll win soon, I think.
The Gloaming comes from a yard with a good record at this venue but is hopelessly out of form right now (as I said earlier). Just the three starts to date, all on Tapeta at massive odds that were justified in her first two starts. She ran far better last time out dropped to 5f and she drops in class here ands is as they say "open to improvement".
Vitalline won a Class 6, 6f handicap at Kempton by three quarters of a length three starts ago, but the eleven runner field from that day has 0 wins and just 2 places from 23 subsequent runs and this colt has finished 11th of 12 and 6th of 6 since. The blinkers are now reached for, almost in desperation and I'm not sure that they allied to the booking of an in-form course specialist jockey will be enough today.
True Contendor is likely to be anything but, I'm afraid. She's another adorning headgear for the first time, as she'll sport blinkers in a bid to improve upon her three previous poor runs, which have seen her finish 7th of 8, 9th of 14 and most recently last of 11 and beaten by 11.5 to 12 lengths on each occasion. She drops in class and trip for her handicap debut, but she's likely to need more than that unless the acquisition of a mark as low as 47 was part of a bigger plan.
Upside Down and Soberton will complete the field and they're another pair of lowly-rated lightweight headgear debutants, as they'll both wear visors for the first time. Upside Down is the most exposed runner in this race, having raced 13 times already, making the frame three times. her best run came four races ago when second here over 6 furlongs off a mark of 46, but has struggled since.
Soberton, on the other hand, has just three efforts, all at triple digit odds and all at a higher grade than this. She drops two classes and a furlong here and carries practically no weight at all : spare a thought for jockey Erika Parkinson trying to take 7lbs off an allocated 8st 2lbs!
At the outset, I had a feeling that despite being a lowly Class 6 affair that it might actually be an interesting/competitive heat between 7 runners anxious to get off the mark. Having spent some time going through the race details, I'm not so sure. I now think it's a pretty poor contest that will probably be uneventful.
I think Professor Galant will get out and attempt to stay out and I think there's a very good chance she'll not get caught. 4/1 looks about right for her and I'd rather have a small punt at that price than back any of the others. Not that I'm massively keen on having a bet at all, if truth be told.
That's how (a) it is sometimes and (b) it should be sometimes. They say "when the fun stops, stops..." and I don't see much fun happening in this one. A field that is 1 from 39 will "improve" to 2 from 46, but they'll still be poor horses.
I think the best advice might well be to leave this alone, switch the telly off and go for a walk, as the pubs remain closed.