A bit of a struggle this week, if truth be told, but Saturday offers us a chance to end the week on a high. To assist us, the Trainer/Jockey combo stats report is free to all users, as are the full cards/details for the following half dozen races...
- 1.20 Cork
- 1.40 Lingfield
- 3.40 Ascot
- 4.15 Ascot
- 4.25 Naas
- 6.50 Warwick
And it's the second on that list that appeals to me most (there wasn't much showing on the Trainer/Jockey combo stats report from my fairly strict parameters), so it's off to "leafy" we go for the 1.40 Lingfield, a 9-runner, Class 4 Flat Handicap for 4yo+ over 1m5f on Good (Good to Soft in places with rain possible) ground. The prize is £4,347 and it will go to one of...
Seven of the nine have at least one win from their last five outings, two move class as top weight Galahad Threepwood steps down from Class 3, whilst bottom weight Beat The Heat ran at Class 5 last time out and a cursory glance at the Geegeez Speed ratings suggests Inchicore and Natty Night might be worth a second look.
The afore-mentioned Galahad Threepwood has been in the first three home in nine of his last ten starts, winning 2 of 5 since the turn of the year, as he landed back to back wins over 1m4f on this very track, but is now 8lbs higher than that last win. He was only 3rd of five at Epsom most recently, but is down in class and has been eased a pound in the weights. Surely another top three finish is possible.
Natty Night ranks second on our neural ratings and has two wins and a place from his last four runs. He was a winner at Newcastle last time out, but has been off the track for seven months since that run. He has moved yards in that downtime and now becomes a rare Venetia Williams flat runner, surely with a jumping career in mind. If ready first up, has an excellent chance here off just 2lbs higher than LTO.
Mukha Magic is ultra consistent, but doesn't win often enough. He has finished third in five of six starts this year with a win at Southwell in February the only non-3rd place run. Hasn't been beaten by far in each of his last two, both ver 1m6f off today's mark, so the slight drop in trip might help here, although others appeal more at this stage.
Lisheen Castle represents the in-form (4/11 in last 14 days) Emma Lavelle and after being pulled up in a 2m3.5f hurdle at Fontwell returns to the Flat for the first time since finishing 17th of 18 in a Class 2 handicap at Ascot in June 2018. Much will depends on how he adapts back to life without hurdles and I think a watching brief might the order here, even if he is some 12lbs lower than that Ascot outing.
Rafiot has three wins and two places from his last seven runs, but struggled over a longer trip at Southwell last time out, beaten by 21 lengths. He's down in class, but has lost his 7lb claimer here, so this might well prove a tough ask off the same mark.
Noonday Gun was a comfortable 7.5 length winner on his third start last August, but hasn't kicked on in handicap company since landing that Novice contest at Catterick. He was last of nine, beaten by 60 lengths on handicap debut and most recently was last home of five on his seasonal reappearance. Probably needs to drop further down the weights or try Class 5 racing?
Green Planet is still a maiden after just three previous runs, but he did make the frame in all three. He made his debut for his new yard back in March which was his first crack at Class 4, but despite finishing third of twelve, was still some five lengths off the pace at Chelmsford over 1m2f and I don'y think a mark of 80 on his handicap debut is doing him any favours.
Inchicore heads the Geegeez ratings and she displayed her stamina when winning on handicap debut at Leicester back in October, getting home by a length and a quarter over 1m4f on heavy ground. She was then off track for 194 days before reappearing at Newbury almost three weeks ago, where she clearly needed the run. She was held up that day, but didn't have the speed to make up ground over a sharp 1m2f, going down by just over nine lengths. She goes off the same mark here and with having that run and this being 3f longer, I expect her to be involved late on.
Beat The Heat has been in a rich vein of form, winning five of his last seven, albeit at Classes 5 & 6. His last outing on turf was a narrow (SH) win over 1m6f (Class 5) at Nottingham back in September where his jockey was able to take 3lbs off an already modest mark of 55. He has no claim here and runs off a mark some 20lbs higher than that run and is the same mark as when going down by six lengths LTO. Don't be sucked in by the form line, this is much tougher and he wouldn't be one I'd want to rush to.
Overall, under similar conditions to today, this field are...
...where most of them have won at or around this trip, we've four course winners across all codes, we've not much to shut about re: class wins, but the weight differentials are very interesting. Mukha Magic Beat The Heat and Rafiot are all much higher in the weights than their last relevant win, but Natty Night is only up 3lbs, which isn't insurmountable.
There's not a great deal of tangible Flat handicap form/data to work with, but seeing as we do have access to it, it'd be rude not to share it with you...
...of those with experience in this sphere, Natty Night, Inchicore and Beat The Heat catch the eye, but the caveat about the latter from earlier is that all his success has been in much poorer races off much lower marks.
There aren't many races over this track and trip, so I can't bring you the pace/draw stats for this one, but that's not a bad thing. Sometimes you have to think outside the box a little or employ some gut feeling or plough through old results. And having done those things, here's where I am...
In races of 9/10 runners over trips of 1m3.5f to 1m6f, horses drawn in stall 4 or higher have had more success than those in 1-3, but that's more a bit of a generalisation as I had to open up the parameters to find workable data and I've not been able to find any reliable pace data that comes anywhere near what we normally provide.
Even without the pace, draw and pace/draw data, I think we've still enough to formulate an opinion here, based on the racecard, recent form, Instant Expert etc and the three I'd take against the field here are Natty Night, Galahad Threepwood and Inchicore.
I think I'd have them in that order too, but there's not a great deal between them and none of them have an ideal profile here. Natty Night comes off a break and runs for a new yard, Galahad carries top weight and didn't have the best of it last time out, whilst Inchicore will need to build upon a fairly modest reappearance last time out.
That said, I think the rest of the field have more questions to answer and I'm sticking with my three.
Bookie check... at 4.20pm my three were 6/1, 9/2 and 6/1 respectively so no E/W punt today, but I'm happy to wager a few shillings on Natty Night here.