Racing Insights

Racing Insights, Monday 03/01/22

Assessing the probable pace/tempo of a race is still a facet of bet selection missed by many UK bettors, but its importance cannot be overstated. The PACE tab on our racecards quickly gives you a good idea of how the race might pan out and it's applicable for all races from your straight 5f sprint to your 4m+ stayers' contests. This tab is one of our many GOLD features, but we think it's so important that we make it fully available to ALL readers for ALL races every Sunday and Monday, including this selection of free races...

  • 12.50 Southwell
  • 3.00 Musselburgh
  • 3.10 Lingfield
  • 7.00 Wolverhampton

The best of those races (on paper, anyway) should be the one North of the Border. Only seven are set to run in the 3.00 Musselburgh, but it's a Class 3 handicap chase for 5yo+ runners, so it should be of a reasonable standard. The going is currently Good to Soft (soft in places) and with showers forecast, I wouldn't expect the ground to get any quicker between now and race time. The trip is a right handed three miles and they'll have to safely negotiate eighteen fences to land the £5,882 prize. Here's the card...

Both Eaglehill and Brian Boranha won last time out and in fact, only Dino Boy and Elmono are without a win in their most recent formlines, although the former does have a coupled# of runner-up finishes in his last five. Three of the five (First Account, That's a Given & Pookie Pekan) step up a level from Class 4 and Elmono makes his first appearance since a wind operation.

That's a Given and Pookie Pekan are the only ones not to have have won at a similar trip to today, whilst both First Account and Elmono have won over course & distance, albeit the former's C&D success was over hurdles and the latter is actually 2 from 2 here. No long layoffs to contend with here, all have raced in the last 12 weeks, but all have had at least 4 weeks rest.

Brian Boranha & Elmono are the "old boys" here at 11 yrs old, takijg on 3 x 8yos and 2 x 9yos, whilst the handicappers suggests that just 12lbs separates the entire field. On recent and/or course form, the trainers/jockeys of First Account and That's A Given have the most positive green icons, but Elmono's yard have had a good time of it recently.

First Account finished 221 over hurdles (all at Class 4) in early summer before spending his autumn sharpening up on the flat. He eventually returned to NH action at Carlisle almost two months ago when only held off by a neck in a Class 4, 2m4½f handicap chase. He's up in class and up 2lbs, which makes life tougher, but he'll get the ground, especially if it softens and he's 2 from 2 here at Musselburgh. His yard have done well in chases here and are in good form right now and he's by Malinas..

Eaglehill has so far proven to be a far better chaser (3 from 5) than he was over hurdles (1/7) and his story so far over fences is win or not finish (P11P1). He didn't seem to like the heavy ground on chasing debut at Lingfield just over 13 months ago, but won on both good and soft ground in March '21 before being pulled up at Cheltenham in April in a race that might have been one too many (3rd run in 41 days). He then had a 6 month break but won by 8 lengths on his return at Fakenham over 3m1½f and is only up 2lbs for that win. Only concern is that prior to Sunday's sole runner, the yard is 1 from 33 over the last fortnight.

Dino Boy has made the frame in six of his ten starts over fences, but comes here in indifferent form having been beaten by 33 lengths when 5th of 6 here over 2m4½f at the end of October and subsequently going down by 75 lengths (8th of 13) in the Scottish Borders National over 4m½f at Kelso four weeks ago. His best form has come on soft ground and most of his running is done over trips further than today, he looks vulnerable here.

Brian Boranha has 4 wins and 3 further places from 22 efforts over fences and scored over 3m1f at Catterick last time out. He may well have only won by half a length, but was always doing enough, suggesting there might be a bit of life in the old dog just yet. A 2lb rise for that win means a similar run puts him in contention here, but I really should add that the Catterick win his first since October 2018 and came after a run of 14 defeats where he only made the frame twice. Let's see which Brian turns up.

That's A Given made the frame in four of seven over fences, winning the last of them, a Class 4 novice handicap over 2m5f at Newton Abbot six months ago. He was then pulled up before 3 out in a Grade 3 over 2m6f at Market Rasen a fortnight later and then out back in the shed for 20 weeks. He reappeared here at Musselburgh four weeks ago to race over hurdles, but came home last of 10, beaten by 34 lengths over 2m4f and now steps up in trip (half a mile) and class and is still 4lbs higher than July's win. Lots of positive stats in his favour, but this looks a tough ask...

Pookie Pekan ended last season finishing second of nine in a Class 4 contest at Carlisle over 2m4½f and had just one summer run at Perth two months later, winning over the same trip, but at this Class 3 level off a mark of 110 prior to taking a 25-week break. He returned to action at Newcastle just over five weeks ago, but his jumping let him down on the way to an 18-length, Class 4, defeat coming home 5th of 10 over 2m4f off a mark of 115. It's over 13 months since he raced over this distance (his best form is at around 2m4f), he's back up in class and he's still 3lbs higher than that last win, but he will "get" the ground if nothing else.

Elmono has neither won nor made the frame in his last six outings since a decent runner-up finish in an 8-runner, Class 2 contest at Perth in September after he'd gone up 5lbs and two classes from a soft ground win over 3m1½f at Cartmel a month earlier. He's now rated some 10lbs lower than that win and steps back up in trip to a more suitable distance for him. He's had a wind op and returns to a venue where he has 2 wins and 2 places from 7 efforts including a course and distance win, but comes here off the back of some heavy defeats, although his yard is in decent nick...

So, we've got an overview of the field and we've ascertained that we've some soft ground winners, some course / distances winners etc, but Instant Expert gives us a quick, clear overview of their past form over expected conditions, where initially Eaglehill is the eye-catcher, albeit off a small number of runs...

He's never raced here before, but that aside a full line of green is always seen as a positive and of those racing off higher marks than their last win, his +2lbs is the joint best alongside Brian Boranha and these are our two LTO winners, so they're not coming back down towards historical marks, they're actually in form. From that graphic, That's A Given looks the weakest, but with only a fairly small dataset to work with, it might be an idea to look at place form...

...which as you'd expect gives us more green to look at. That's A Given still looks weak here and Brian Boranha's claims are hardly enhanced, at least some of the others have acquired a bit more green

Feature of the day is PACE, of course and what we know from similar past races is that it pays to be up towards the front end...

...where leaders have a really good chance of remaining in the frame, even if they do often get picked off by the prominent chaser/stalker. I'd take the mid-div stats with a pinch of salt or at least a bit of caution, as 8 runners from 140 (5.7%) is a really small sample size, but I think the main takeaway from the PACE stats is that hold up horses tend to struggle.

They can win, of course and their conversion of placers into winners (41.6%) is very good, but life is tough from the back under expected conditions. All of which would suggest that the likes of Pookie Pekan, Eaglehill and Dino Boy are best suited by the way they've approached recent races...

...Elmono is a conundrum, switching in his last two from a hold-up style to more advanced positions, but with no change in form, First Account will probably run prominently, as those two hold-up runs were on the Flat and he has actually tracked/chased the leaders in each of his last three NH outings. Brian Boranha will definitely be further back, as will That's A Given, unless either have a change of tactics.


I've written today's piece a good few hours earlier than normal, due to a family commitment this afternoon, so there are currently only odds available from Hills. Throughout the piece, I've been drawn back towards Eaglehill and he's the one ticking the most boxes for me here. He's an 11/4 to 3/1 shot in my eyes, so Hills' 5/2 is a little on the skinny side for me, meaning I'll need to hang on for other firms or to see if the 9/4 fav First Account shortens in the market.

First Account is probably next best, but he's also too short in my opinion at 9/4. If I was tempted to take a longer-priced E/W punt, then Pookie Pekan might try to make all and hold on for a place, but even his 9/1 ticket is a good couple of points short of where I'd want to be with him and there are only 2 places offered by the bookies, although the exchanges might give three.




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