Every Sunday & Monday, we make the racecard pace data available to all readers for all races including, of course, our free 'races of the day', which for Monday are...
- 2.05 Hexham
- 2.20 Ludlow
- 3.15 Hexham
Of that trio of 'free' races, I'm probably most interested in the last one, even if it's the worst of the three on paper. The Ludlow race is 3-runner affair and the first on the list is poor-looking novice contest, so I'm going to quickly whizz through the 3.15 Hexham to see if anything is worth backing. It's a lowly Class 5, 9-runner, 4yo+ handicap hurdle (10 flights) over a left handed 2m4f on good ground. First prize is a fairly paltry £4,302, but one of these will win it...
None of them come here in any great form (hardly surprising at Class 5), but Fightfortheroses won three starts ago and Lovely Moon five starts ago, whilst Everyday Champagne did make the frame on handicap debut last time out. The top four on the card are all dropping in class here, Lovely Moon comes down three levels from Class 2 LTO, whilst Blow By Blow, Dakota Beat and Perfect Man are down one class.
Only Lovely Moon, Everyday Champagne and Dorothy's Flame are without a win at a similar trip to today, whilst Dakota Beat is a former course winner. the latter has been off track the longest of this field, but at 57 days rest, I wouldn't get too alarmed just yet.
His last two starts in Ireland for Declan Queally came early last December and saw him win by 18 lengths over 2m3f at Clonmel off a mark of 85 and then go down by just a head a week later over 2m5f at Tramore off 90. Has since ran three times in the UK and ahsn't looked the same horse off much higher marks. Runs off the same mark as his 7th of 14 on Saturday, but he is down 3 classes here.
BLOW BY BLOW
Twenty-one races and forty-one months have passed since his last win of any type and four years since his last win over hurdles (2018 Cheltenham Festival). He's certainly not the Class 1 performer he was back in 2018 and although down one class here, he was only 9th of 10, beaten by 45 lengths over this trip at Ayr LTO.
It took him eight starts over hurdles to get off the mark when landing a Class 4, 2m4f maiden by some 16 lengths at Ayr eight months ago. His next two runs were disappointing and he was then moved to John Norton's yard, where he has failed to shine, finishing 11th of 14 (43L), last of 5 (19L), 8th of 14 (34L) and 10th of 11 (28L). It's hard to be upbeat about Dakota Beat.
This 11 yr old has won 7 of 37 (18.9%) over hurdles, a respectable tally for a Class 5 horse, but hasn't won any of his last thirteen for two different trainers. Last of six, second last of seven and last of six again in his three latest runs suggest he's not winning here either, even if he's down in class and has a tumbling handicap mark.
Is 1 from 26 in NH races and finally got off the mark in race 23 (9th over hurdles) when scoring by 4 lengths over today's trip at Sedgefield in mid-January, but has been beaten by 19L and 52L in his two subsequent efforts and is probably best left alone
Very inexperienced runner with just four efforts over hurdles, the best of which was his handicap debut last time out, when dropped down to this level to finish third of fifteen (3.5L) at Newcastle despite a bad mistake 4 out and a blunder at the last, Should improve for that run and off the same mark looks like the one to beat.
Won over this trip at Limerick thirty-two months ago, but is 0 from 22 (0/9 hurdles) since and hasn't tackled hurdles in the last five months, trying fences (badly) three times instead. Out of form and plenty to prove = not for me.
Has been kept busy with five runs already this year, but having made the frame in both December runs, he has finished 64F64 this year and although only beaten by six lengths LTO, he's unlikely to be able to improve enough to win this.
Unplaced in three bumpers and fourteen hurdle races probably says enough, but her best run to date came here at Hexham over 2m7½f where she faded to a 5 length defeat late on, so whilst she's certainly not one to rely on, the drop in trip might just help be more competitive than usual and maybe make the frame?
Instant Expert, unsurprisingly, is a bit of a mess with such unreliable runners who tend not to win too often...
...but Fightfortheroses looks good on the comparison. Ex S'Elance's record at Class 5 is a worry, though. There are also some big weight differentials with Lovely Moon being 20lbs higher than his last win, but Perfect Man & Blow BY Blow are now 36lbs & 40lbs lower respectively. I'm not convinced that Fightfortheroses is our answer here, so let's look at the place stats before considering race tactics/pace...
Hmmm, that's not entirely helpful either. I'm pretty sure that I don't want to back Dakota Beat even if the evidence above points to a decent run! Let's put that to one side for a moment, whilst we dig out the past pace stats for similar races...
...and we essentially want a leader or a hold-up horse and based on our field's last four outings...
...Lovely Moon and Dakota beat would appear to be the leader/hold-up horses.
On Instant Expert place data and on the pace analysis, Dakota Beat has emerged as a runner of interest, but I really don't like him. He's bang out of form and too high in the weights, but if you've seen something above that you think gives him a chance, he's available at 22/1 for an E/W punt and I suppose with Skybet offering four places at 20's, there's a temptation.
But I don't like him and won't back him. Personally, I think Everyday Champagne is the one to beat, but at a best price of 6/4, he's way too short for me to get involved in such a poor race and my advice to you is walk away, leave it and look at another race for a bet.
Not betting is very OK, having a punt for the sake of it isn't. That said, the two that interest me most are Fightfortheroses and Lovely Moon, but at odds of 11/2, neither are long enough for me to have what would be a really small stakes E/W punt.