Racing Insights

Racing Insights, Monday 17/01/22

The pace tab on the Geegeez racecards can give you a really prediction of how the race might pan out from a tactical perspective. PACE is not simply a case of which horse is the fastest, it's all about race management. Think Tortoise & Hare, Hare would have an average pace score of 4 (led) with the slow-moving Tortoise scoring 1 (held-up), but 4 doesn't always beat 1 : it all depends on the race conditions.

The PACE tab is free to access for ALL readers, irrespective of subscription status, each Sunday and Monday for EVERY race, including our daily free cards, which are set to be...

  • 2.00 Chepstow
  • 3.20 Fakenham
  • 3.35 Punchestown
  • 7.00 Wolverhampton

Monday racing is invariably poor fayre and today is no exception, we've either small fields or poor races and faced with that choice I'd generally plump for the former. The first of the free races is the highest class of the four, so we're off to Wales for the 2.00 Chepstow, a trappy/competitive looking Class 3, 5yo+ handicap chase. The trip is a left-handed 2m3½f, taking in 16 fences on soft ground, but the £8,169 first prize will only be contested by four runners, where I'll be hoping to get the 1-2 from this quartet...

Eden du Houx carries top weight here, but only a pound more than the next two on the card. He was a winner at this grade/going over two miles at Ffos Las on his last run ten weeks ago, which was a decent effort coming some 236 days after his previous run, a tough race at the Cheltenham Festival. He also won on his only previous visit to this track, but that was over hurdles almost two years ago. he ahs three wins and two places from six on soft ground and has made the frame at both starts over today's trip. His regular rider is in situ, he's a former Listed class bumper winner, has fared better going left handed and has some decent stats to back up claims here...

Farne was a hurdles winner here over course and distance clear by an ever-increasing five lengths when the line came two starts ago back in March of last year. She was then put back in the shed for 263 days before reappearing at Warwick almost six weeks ago for her chase debut. After a shaky start where she was hampered at the first, she grew into the race and was eventually third of eight, a decent result on debut after such a long break, but even more so when you consider that it was a Listed race and she's now down two classes, whilst the winner that day has since been a runner-up in a Grade 2! She has never won on soft ground, but has placed in three of five efforts, she's two from two at the trip and having had that chasing bow and dropping in class, she should have a real chance here.

Frenchy Du Large has won two of his eleven starts to date, making the frame in another four. He was a useful Class 4 hurdler with his best effort being his last one almost 11 months ago, winning by 2.25 lengths over 2m5½f on heavy ground at Ludlow. He unseated at the second fence (made mistake at the first) on his chase debut some 257 days later, but got off the mark over fences next/last time out, winning pretty comfortably over 2m4f at Uttoxeter last month. He's up 1 class and 9lbs for that win, which makes life more difficult here, but when you've won two of your last three, you'd fancy your chances, especially for a yard that is 7 from 20 (35% SR, A/E 1.59) in Class 2 to 4, soft ground handicap chases here at Chepstow over the last five years.

Firak completes the line-up and receives 5/6 lbs from the other three. He was placed in four of his five hurdle runs before struggling on chase debut at the end of October 2020, when only 6th of 7, beaten by 24 lengths over 2m5f at Stratford. He then switched back hurdles and won a heavy-ground maiden here over course and distance almost a year ago, but has only raced once since. That last run was a month ago (so 11 months rest) at Haydock, but he could only finish 7th of 22 (bt by 22L) over two miles on soft ground. He'll have the benefit of having had a run, he's been eased 3lbs by the assessor and the step back in trip should also work in his favour. Add in the fact that #TeamSkelton have a really good record over fences on soft or worst ground (26/107 = 24.3%) in recent years and he could go well.

At this point, I'd say Firak looks the most vulnerable, but any of the four could have serious claims to wining this. I've mentioned a few stats about the quartet's past run, but Instant Expert can show you all this for all four horses at once to help you decide who you think will handle conditions best and it help to select/eliminate a runner or two...

Eden du Houx has struggled at Class 3, winning 1 of 6 and failing to place in any of the other five and although placed at this trip, has fared better over shorter. He's also 5lbs higher for that LTO win. Farne has actually made the frame in three of those five soft ground defeats and has a relatively recent course and distance success, albeit over hurdles. Frenchy du Large doesn't look as good here as he might actually be in reality, but he's in form for a good yard, although a 9lb rise could hurt. Firak again looks weakest, albeit off a small sample size and again, like Farne has won a hurdles race over course and distance.

Today's free feature is, of course, the PACE tab and this show how the horses have raced in their last four outings, as follows...

Now, at the moment, that's not massively helpful, as there appears to be no pace in the race, but we'll start with Farne, who is a confirmed hold-up horse or at least has been in each of her last six outings and as she's been in good form, I think it's safe to say she'll be in the rear here. A quick look back over Frenchy du Large's career says he's a prominent runner, whilst Firak's average pace score over his eight races is a solid 2 with six of eight runs ranked at 1 or 2. Lastly Eden du Houx whos average pace score over seven chase runs is around the 2.5 mark, but four of those seven were scored at an average of 3.33, so he may be the one to take the race on.

Based purely on the horses' last four outings of any kind, here's what the pace profile/race positioning looks like...

and here's how my estimated pace scores might pan out...

...and if (and I know it's an if) Eden du Houx does take it on and tackle the race from the front, that would probably be his best tactic, based on these previous races here at Chepstow...

Summary

Frenchy du Large is probably the best horse in the race, but I'm not convinced conditions will be to his liking and up in class and 9lbs in weight, a price around the 6/4 mark looks a bit skinny. Firak has proven to be the weakest throughout the analysis but for his trainer/jockey's past soft ground success. Eden du Houx and Farne seem pretty closely matched, but if the former takes it on, I think he could win this.

Backing Eden du Houx at 5/2 isn't making any of us rich, of course, but a (reverse) forecast with the fav might be the call.

 

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