The pace tab on our racecards gives a clear indication of how a race will unfold even before the stalls open or the tapes rise. It's such an important weapon in the bettors' armoury that we make access to this feature totally free to all readers for all races every Sunday & Monday in addition to the daily selection of free races, which for this Monday are...
- 2.35 Leopardstown
- 2.55 Wetherby
- 4.30 Southwell
- 6.00 Wolverhampton
And on a poor day of racing, the least unattractive to me of the freebies is the 4.30 Southwell, a 10-runner, Class 5, 4yo+ handicap hurdle taking in nine flights over a left-handed 2m½f (after +127 yards rails adjustment) on soft ground...
We've no LTO winners and no real good form, although sole course and distance winner, Begin The Luck, was in the frame last time around. None of the other shave won here before, but Pay The Woman, Jaisalmer, Linger and Ace Time have all won at similar trips in the past.
Three of the field are dropping down a class here, Linger, Ez Tiger & Tarseem with the latter pair also on handicap debut, whilst Boys of Wexford & Miss West are racing in handicaps for just the second time and Military Tactic runs for the first time since moving yards.
PAY THE WOMAN
This lightly raced (5 runs so far) mare only made her debut 11 months ago and after a poor sole Irish run in a bumper switched yard and won back to back Class 4 Novice hurdles, but didn't have the same success in a couple of efforts over fences. Rested since mid-November and reverting back hurdles where she's 2 from 2 in a higher grade, she has a great chance here if ready fresh.
BEGIN THE LUCK
Won back to back course, class and distance contests last spring and was a runner-up beaten by just a neck in June, he clearly saves his best for here, but was actually a respectable third place at Uttoxeter at the end of January and a return to his preferred track off a mark effectively lower than his last win (inc jockey claim) could see him back in the winners' enclosure.
Has won just 2 of 19 over the last four years and both were at Warwick, the most recent being 6 races/45 weeks ago and hasn't run particularly well since. He's now 12lbs lower than that last win, but after finishing 877 in his last three, there's probably more to his poor form than just his mark.
Just five starts to date (2 x NHF, 3 x Hrd), but has yet to even make the frame. Fifth of ten, beaten by 22 lengths at Newbury a fortnight over this trip/going, he might need more than a drop in class on handicap debut.
Just five runs over the last two years, failing to complete three times, last of ten in another and 4th of 15 his only reasonable result and even then, he was the best part of 24 lengths behind the winner. A drop in class over a markedly shorter trip smells of desperation and I'm not buying it.
Only his fourth start after finishing 3U3 in a trio of Class 4 2m hurdles. He struggled to see the trip out LTO and was beaten by almost 19 lengths, but now drops in class for a handicap debut. Likely to be popular by virtue of Team Skelton, but hasn't really shown a great deal on the track so far and will need to make strides forward.
BOYS OF WEXFORD
If you need more than that, how about 11th of 13, beaten by 69 lengths on debut in October and 7th of 15 (13L), 9th of 14 (58L) and last of ten (60L) since? That last run was particularly dire in a handicap off a mark of just 93 and a subsequent 5lb drop isn't getting him to win here.
Failed to make the frame in any of his first sixteen career outings in the two years from November '19 prior to being introduced to jockey Ben Godfrey, who then rode him to 3rd of 12 at Huntingdon, a 7.5 length win at Leicester and then a 6.5 length success at Uttoxeter in the space of 38 days last winter. That took his mark from 74 to 89, which then proved too much and he has gone down by 31 and 61 lengths in two runs since. His current mark of 85 is still too high and I'd want to wait for him to drop a bit more and for Ben Godfrey to get back on board.
0 from 2 on the A/W and 0/4 on the Flat preceded his six efforts over hurdles, where he is yet to make the frame and has gone down by an average of 43 lengths per race) Now making a yard debut for a fourth handler in just three years, he's likely to need (a) the run after 244 days off track and (b) a minor miracle to win here.
Fifth of eight in a bumper last October on debut has been the career highlight so far for this 5 yr old mare, who since than has been 10th of 11, 6th of 10, last of 6 and 7th of 8 in four hurdles contests, beaten by 54, 27, 41 and 48 lengths. A 3lb and one class drop surely won't be enough here and I don't see her making the frame for the first time, never mind actually winning!
Jeez! There's some rubbish here, isn't there? Hard to really like any, but if pushed I'd say Pay the Woman, Begin The Luck are the two I've liked the look of most so far. That's gut instinct, of course and sadly that's not easily quantifiable, unlike stats under similar conditions, as highlighted on Instant Expert...
We don't have much relevant winning form, as is often the case at Class 5, so I've gone with all NH places and then all NH handicap places and Begin The Luck is certainly emerging as one to consider. He's coming back into something like his old form since being switched back to a more prominent racing style for his last couple of outings...
...and he's likely to find Jaisalmer, Linger, Tarseem and Pay The Woman in and around him, whilst the likes of Ace Time, Miss West, Ez Tiger and Boys of Wexford are probably going to be waited with, but according to our pace analysis of similar past races...
...being held up virtually ends your chances here and that's not good news for any of those from Ace Time downwards on the pace chart, not that I fancied that quartet anyway, but it helps me reduce the field by 40%!
A poor-looking contest, but the two who ticks more boxes than the others on the way through were Pay The Woman and especially Begin The Luck and I think they're the two I like best, so if the 11/2 (with Hills : the only open book at 4.05pm) Begin the Luck was to lead the 9/2 Pay The Woman home, I'd be a very happy man indeed. Hills have installed Tarseem as the 7/4 favourite, which looks really short and must have been influenced by the name Skelton as trainer. he looks useful, but unproven and I might well get egg on my face, but he's surely not a 7/4 shot here. He could well, be something, and could easily make the frame but he's certainly no E/W punt at 7/4, but Jaisalmer at 9's might be.