Racing Insights

Racing Insights, Monday 21/03/22

The PACE tab on the racecards allows us to form an informed opinion on how a race might unfold even before the stalls open or the tapes rise. We log past running styles which tell us how a horse is generally ridden and we can compare those running styles of an entire field by simply clicking the PACE tab. We feel it's that important that we make this feature totally free for all races on Sundays and Mondays including, of course, Monday's free to all racecards...

  • 1.00 Southwell
  • 3.20 Southwell
  • 3.30 Wincanton

The first of that trio is the only non Novice/Maiden affair and although I'm expecting a fairly short-priced fav from the small field, there should still be some interest around the 1.00 Southwell, a 6-runner, Class 4, 5yo+ handicap chase taking in 19 fences over a left handed 3m60yds on reportedly good ground. The prize is £8,169 and it will go to one of this half dozen...

None of these won last time out, as three failed to even finish. Steel Wave has made the frame in his last five, so he's probably the form horse, but Head On has won three of his last five too, whereas Coole Lion has failed to complete four of his last five!

Head On returns from a break of just over four months, but the other five have all raced in the last eight weeks or so. Just two of the six didn't race at this level last time, Steel Wave drops from Class 3 and Coole Lion is up from C5, whilst the former is, at 12 yrs of age, the only one here older than 9.

Don't Ask has won here previously over 2m5½f, Peur de Rien won over 3m at Kempton, as has Steel Wave at Bangor and Ludlow, whilst Coole Lion won here over course and distance back in August 2020.

Only had two moderate (4th both times) runs over hurdles before finishing as a runner-up here over 2m5f on his chasing debut last July. He got off the mark at the third attempt over fences, landing a gruelling 3m3f heavy ground handicap at Fontwell on Boxing Day, but has toiled in two runs since, going down by 18L and 45L.

His final run over hurdles was here over 3m1½f last June when a decent second of nine, beaten only by one who is two from two since, winning by 14L and 21L. Since then Head On has raced five times over fences, winning three times at trips of 2m7f to 3m2f, but has been pulled up twice. He seems to either jump/run well or make mistakes and gets pulled up. If it's the former here, he's bang in contention after a rest.

Three from twenty-two isn't great overall and 1 from 8 over fences is even worse. That win did come here at Southwell, however, when scoring over 2m5½f last May on his fourth attempt at the larger obstacles. Has failed to make the frame in any of his other seven efforts and has been pulled up four times and now goes beyond 2m5½f for the first time. Don't Ask? Just Look elsewhere!

12th of 16 in his sole bumper and then failed to make the frame in any of eight races over hurdles. has fared much better over fences, placing in half of ten starts, winning twice, but his last four runs have seen him beaten by 16L, 16L, 35L before falling when well beaten at Warwick LTO.

This 12 yr old has certainly been kept busy over the last year since returning to action last March from a 16-month absence. Since that break, he has raced 17 times but didn't really catch the eye until winning over 2m7½f at Stratford at the end of October, yet since then has finished 432122, although the first five of those six runs were at Class 5. He stepped up two levels to finish second over 3m at Doncaster last time out in a race where the winner has since won again.

Won back to back contests here over 3m1½f and today's 3m½f on his only two handicap chase outings in 2020, but was off track for 401 days after the second win. Hasn't been the same horse since returning last September and has finished P5PPP in five runs since the break and the 5 was a 70 length defeat in a nine-runner field.

Overall form above will have already sown some seeds about where your money might go here, but to compare all six side-by-side, we have Instant Expert...

Steel Wave's record over fences on good ground isn't great at all, but has made the frame in 3 of his 12 defeats, whilst Percussion's 0 from 3 contains two placed efforts. Peur de Rien has been extensively tried at Class 4 to little effect and he's probably better off down at Class 5 in future. We already knew about course and distance wins, but the weights might play a role here. Both Head On &  Steel Wave are significantly higher in the weights than their last wins, but Coole Lion is some 11lbs lower albeit due to his recent inability to finish races.

So how will/should they run? Pace is Monday's feature, so let's have a look at this aspect of the race right now. Firstly our Pace Analyser says that the last 19 similar contests (I do tend to look for samples of 20 or bigger) have favoured horses running from just (but not too far) off the pace...

...and as I said at the top of the piece, we log every runner's running style from every race. We do this by allocating a number from 1-4 to each run, where 1 = held up, 2 = mid division, 3 = prominent and 4 = led to correspond with those stats above. These figures are, of course, contextual, if you've a 10-runner race with six runners who like to lead, it's unlikely you'll have a line of six at the head of affairs, so with this in mind, here's how the last four runs for today's field look...

...and now my approach here is as follows. I say they can't run like that exactly, because one (or more) will HAVE to set the pace, so I think that heat map will look more like this...

...but this, of course, is just my own interpretation of things! If I've got that right, then Head On looks best suited by the pace profile and he scored well on Instant Expert. Likely fav Steel Wave and the two upfront look much less well off based on my thoughts about the pace of the race and with Steel Wave's poor record on good ground, he could be vulnerable here.


As I expected Steel Wave is a fairly short (7/4 with Hills at 3.50pm) favourite and there's no way that I want to back him at that price, even if he is the form horse. He's not guaranteed to 'get' the ground and might have too much work to do late on and I think that both Head On at 11/4 or Percussion at 7/2 would offer more value on a price to chance ratio. Of those two possibilities, I prefer Head On based on his Instant Expert numbers and his pace profile but the obvious caveat that he's generally either all in or all out. Percussion might pick up the pieces if Head On's jumping goes awry again.

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