Racing Insights

Racing Insights, Friday 11/03/22

The Horses for Courses (H4C) report is our free Geegeez Gold feature every Friday and it does pretty much as the name suggests and shows the full course history since 2009 of any horse running that has previously had a run at the track. It is sorted by number of wins, but this can be changed to any column at your discretion.

As well as today’s race time, course, horse name, jockey and trainer name, there is a breakdown of runs, wins and places, and profit and loss calculations for both win and each way betting. And as with all Geegeez reports, there is a ‘Today’ and a ‘Tomorrow’ (for the next day’s racing) view.

HINT: Layers might like to look towards the lower end of the report, for those with negative performance at the track.

[Please refer to our User Guide for further information]

Sadly, my own settings for the H4C report...

...have proved too restrictive for any potential bets, so it's a good job that we also have the following free racecards...

  • 1.45 Exeter
  • 4.50 Newcastle
  • 5.20 Newcastle
  • 6.00 Dundalk

I'm not a fan of the Irish A/W scene and the Newcastle races are better than the Exeter one. Sadly the two Newcastle races only have 3 and 5 runners respectively, but I think you could make a case for at least four of the runners in the 5.20 Newcastle, as it looks quite competitive for the grade, so that's where we'll head. It's a 5-runner, Class 4, 4yo+ Mares Handicap Hurdle taking in nine flights over a left-handed two miles on good ground. The prize is £6,208 and here's how they line up...

So, only Just Jess comes here without making the frame when last seen and we've a couple of LTO winners in the shape of Bella Bluesky and Taragrace, but the latter is now stepped up in class, as are Just Jess and She's A Rocca.

It's a race fairly short on handicap experience, as She's A Rocca accounts for five of the field's total seven efforts, as both Taragrace and Just Jess are on their second crack at handicaps, whilst it's debut day for Bella Bluesky and Nikolayeva, whilst the latter is the only one of the five without a win at a similar trip to today.

We've no course winners on show, but Taragrace's yard has a good record here and bottom weight She's A Rocca comes from a yard in good form. There shouldn't be any rustiness here, as all five have raced in the last 24 to 42 days. As for some background on this handful of mares...

BELLA BLUESKY
Won a Class 4 bumper over 2m½f on good to soft ground at Musselburgh almost a year ago and has enjoyed a good start to this season. She was a runner-up beaten by just over 2 lengths here over course and distance in mid-January despite being off track for 208 days and put that run to good effect when winning at Kelso at the same grade/trip next/last time out five weeks ago. She looked pretty comfortable in a 4-length success that day and should be amongst it here on handicap debut.

NIKOLAYEVA
Actually won at this trip on the A/W at Wolverhampton back in September 2020 and ended her Flat campaign with a convincing 5.5 length win at Leicester over 1m4f last October. Since then, she has raced twice over hurdles, making the frame on both occasions on heavy ground and might go even better on this quicker surface.

TARAGRACE
Didn't really show much in one bumper and three hurdle contests at this level earlier in the winter, but took advantage of a lenient-looking mark of 95 and a drop in class for her handicap debut at Doncaster six weeks ago, when driven out to win by 2.5 lengths. The step back up to Class 4 allied with a 7lb rise in weight makes this far tougher and we have to decide whether she's now coming into form or whether her last run was a flash in the pan.

JUST JESS
Showed little in two Class 5 bumpers in November 2020 before being pulled up in her first two efforts over hurdles, admittedly up in class and trip. She then had a wind op and dropped back to 2m to land a 7-runner novice hurdle by 11 lengths on heavy ground three months ago, but has been pulled up before 3 out and then 6th of 9 (21 lengths) in two outings since.

SHE'S A ROCCA
Won a Class 5 bumper on debut in November 2019 before struggling in a Listed contest the month after. She then switched to hurdling, where her third place (of 10) at Doncaster last time out, has easily been her best piece of work and the only time she has made the frame in eight attempts and that came after being in her box for 15 weeks, the first-time tongue possibly helping. She was only just over half a length off the winner, having been headed late on and whilst she's only up a pound, she is up in weight after a defeat. That said, she does get weight all round and her yard is in good touch right now.

With so little relative past experience, I'm not sure that Instant Expert will tell us much, but let's check win and place stats for previous NH efforts...

...where it's very hard to ignore the claims of Bella Bluesky, whose only negative is a 0 from 3 Newcastle record, but has made the frame in two of those defeats, so "gets" the track well enough. She's fine on good/good to soft ground, class and distance and providing the race is run to suit her, she's probably the one to beat for me. And with that in mind, we should check here (and the others) running style...

...and that's the order in which I think they'll break based on past hurdles runs. Our pace analysis of short-trip contests here at Newcastle...

...says it's very tough for hold-up horses to win here, which isn't good for Taragrace, who's already up in both class and weight.

Summary

The bookies (well, just Hills right now) have Taragrace as the 11/8 fav here and I think that's mighty short for one up in class/weight and seemingly unsuited from the pace angle. Yes, she won last time out, but she's 9lbs worse off now after a reduction in jockey claim added to her own 7lb rise and I'd oppose her here with the current 9/4 second favourite Bella Bluesky, who ticks lots of boxes on form and Instant Expert and we think she'll be quite prominent.

So, it's Bella Bluesky for me and if pushed for a back-up for forecast purposes, I think I prefer front-runner the 4/1 Nikolayeva. She won't lack stamina, could set a fair gallop and has placed in both starts so far over hurdles. In fact, she might well tough it out and try to hang on and win.

NB I wrote the above piece before realising Taragrace was running in Thursday's 2.45 Carlisle, which she won at 7/4, albeit back down at Class 5 and only by a heads, so I'm happy with my original conclusion.

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