Silken Moonlight ran an absolute blinder this afternoon compared with past form and was unlucky in the end, saving me from a touch of embarrassment.
However, I'm happy that the process of elimination led me to a 10/1 winner (£1 E/W, last of the big spenders!) and also that Instant Expert perfectly highlighted Champion Chase's place credentials, as he finished third at 15/2.
Tuesday's free feature is The Shortlist report, whilst our free races of the day will be...
- 1.35 Exeter
- 3.00 Clonmel
- 3.20 Newcastle
- 3.40 Exeter
Only one horse interested me off The Shortlist report, whilst our free races featured two maiden hurdles and a novice hurdle, races I try not to get involved in. Hobson's Choice, therefore, is another tight-looking 6-runner affair aka the 3.20 Newcastle.
It's a decent enough standard, though, as it's a Class 3 handicap chase over 2m7.5f on Good to Soft (Soft in places) ground. It's worth £7,018 to the winner and there are some names you might recognise on this racecard...
First glance suggests She'sASuperMack is likely to be popular based on form and a drop in class, but her yard and jockey have negative recent course stats according to the icons. The 8 yr old is only ranked fifth on our ratings though, so it might not be a shoo in. Let's check them all out, shall we?
Blaklion is one we've all heard of. He won the Gr1 RSA Chase at the Cheltenham Festival five years ago and won the Gr3 Becher Handicap Chase at Aintree on December 2017, but has been on the wane since with the latter end of his career punctuated by long absences. Since April 2018, he has raced just five times and had spells of 224 days, 623 days and 118 days off the track. That latest break was ended at Warwick just 11 days ago when he finished 7th of 9, beaten by 33 lengths. In his day, thid would be a walk in the park, but his best days are long gone. He could win here as he gets the ground and the trip, his yard and rider are in good form and this is the lowest grade race he's contested since his third start back in September 2014, but others look more likely here.
Dingo Dollar unseated when being well beaten over hurdles at last year's Cheltenham Festival, then was rested for 31 weeks before finishing 12th of 13 (bt by 61L) in a Uttoxeter Class 2 hurdle, before returning to chasing next/last time out. He was always towards the back that day at Aintree and was eventually pulled up, completing a fairly miserable year for him. That said, he's now on his lowest chase mark since winning at Newbury back in December 2017, he stays (and has won) further than this and the ground will be no issue here. Shortlist material, I think, on debut for new yard, dropping down in class.
Count Meribel is 2 from 9 over fences, although hasn't shaped well in this sphere since finishing as a runner-up in a Listed contest at Carlisle back in November 2019. he was then 6th (bt by 16L0 in a Gr3 at Cheltenham the same month, before failing to complete his next two runs. He was then beaten by 17 lengths (7th of 10) over2m4f at Newbury in November. Since then, he has ran just once, tackling a 3m0.5f Class 3 hurdle at Doncaster just after Christmas and failed to complete again. I don't think he stays the trip and is likely to be nearer the back than the front if he actually finishes.
She'sASupermack is clearly the form horse of this bunch, but the 8 yr old mare has yet to prove herself beyond 2m4.5f. At 2m4f/2m4.5f, she has four wins and three places from seven starts. However, she was 6th of 7 (bt by 20L) in a Class 2 hurdle over today's trip and 10th of 11 (bt by 32L) at Class 4 in back to back runs in June/July 2019 and has been running at her more favoured trip since.
Glittering Love had been running fairly well in 2020, without hitting the heights of 2018/19 when he won four chases on the bounce in the mud at trips ranging from 2m4f to 3m1f. He was a soft ground faller on a comeback from 287 days off track here just before Christmas 2019, but finished 323 in his next three outings, only beaten by 13L, 2,25L and 6.25L. He was, however, disappointing last time out when 4th of 6, 25 lengths off the pace at Ayr in mid-December and will need to bounce back after a 12-week break if he's to land this one. Track/trip/going/jockey all positive and if running to his best, has every chance off his lowest chase mark since his last win.
Bafana Blue is another who had a strong 2019, but probably ended up too high in the weights to continue the run of form. His mark went from 101 to 130 after finishes of 1412111. Weight aside, this trip is probably a little on the sharp side for him too. He stays all day and his six of his seven career chase victories have been at three miles and beyond. He has won on this going or worse, but does prefer quicker ground and he has a good record in this grade, but I'm not fancying his chances here.
Not much on offer in the shape of recent form, aside from the likely favourite, but what about historical performance? Instant Expert will hopefully have the key...
I'd say that IE shows the bottom half of the card in a better light than the top, although Blaklion is 4 from 20 at higher grades than this.
From a pace perspective over 24 similar races, almost half (11) have been won by those racing prominently, leaders have won 8 (33.3%), hold-up horses have 4 (16.6%) victories, but mid-division runners have won just 1 of 24, despite 17 of 145 (11.7%) of runners racing that way.
Leaders/prominence is where you want to be here under today's conditions, so let's see how these six are likely to break out...
From that graphic, you'd be happy with the race positioning of the first three, Bafana Blue is borderline, but I'm not keen on the way the bottom two look set to approach this.
From analysing the form, Instant Expert and the pace setup of the race, there's no obvious winner here.
Bafana Blue scored poorly on form, but well on IE and so-so on pace, but interestingly now runs off a mark lower than his last chase win.
Blaklion isn't the Blaklion we all grew to love, he's getting on now (I'm not fond of horses racing at this age whilst on an obvious decline) and other fare better in all aspects.
Count Meribel has the ideal running style, but isn't in good form and didn't score that well on IE
Dingo Dollar is also on a very workable mark now, but needs an uplift in form on yard debut, will race prominently which is good, but doesn't seem massively suited to conditions.
Glittering Love has it all in his locker to win here, he gets the trip and the ground, he'll be up with the pace, but just needs to roll the clock back a bit form-wise, I'd have loved him to be a couple or more pounds lower in the weights.
She'sASupermack has the best recent form, but is unproven at the trip. She might also end up with too much work to do late on and wasn't great off this mark last time out.
Finding a winner or even a bet here is likely to come down to who has the fewest negatives about them and can be backed a value-ish price and to that end, I'm drawn more towards the 4/1 Glittering Love than the 9/4 fav.
Dingo Dollar for third, possibly?