The pace tab on our racecards enable you to get a pretty good idea of how a race might unfold even before the stalls open or the tapes go up, and this often overlooked weapon in the armoury is far more important than many people realise. So much so, that make it available to ALL readers for ALL races EVERY Sunday & Monday including, of course. Monday's free racecards for the following...
- 2.20 Punchestown
- 3.00 Hereford
- 4.20 Punchestown
- 6.00 Wolverhampton
I'm not really a fan of Irish racing, so I've two free races to pick from and although the A/W contest only has five runners, there has to be more scope for analysis than the three-runner chase at Hereford. So, the 6.00 Wolverhampton it is, a five-runner, Class 5, 4yo+ A/W handicap over a left handed 5f on standard Tapeta...
Denzil's Laughing and Steelriver are the form horses here, having both won last time out, but both do step up in class here. Mind you, only Zapper Cass isn't stepping up and he's one of three former course and distance winners in the field. Denzil's Laughing has won here over 6f and has two wins elsewhere over this 5f trip, whilst Raabeh has neither a course nor a distance win : that's because he's 0 from 25! All five have raced inside the last ten days, so none are coming off any kind of a break.
Denzil's Laughing returned to action ten days ago after a near 16-week break to win over this trip at Southwell off a mark of 67, ending a run of ten defeats since winning at Catterick off 69 back in April. He's up 5lbs for that run, which wouldn't be an issue for many in-form horses, but he hasn't tended to produce decent efforts back to back and he's 0 from 8 off marks in the 70's. He does have some decent stats in his favour, though...
Zapper Cass has raced 86 times already and has a decent enough 17% strike rate (9/53) on the A/W, including wins here over both this 5f trip and also at 6f. However, this 9yr old isn't the horse he was when winning 12 of 59 (20.3%) as a 5-7 yr old and comes here on a run of fourteen straight defeats, during which he has made the frame just once but not in the last twelve. It's hard to see how going again at the same mark/class/trip suddenly gets him to win.
Steelriver is even older at the ripe old age of 12, but he's in much better form than the one above, finishing third over 6f at Southwell almost three weeks ago off a mark of 63, before returning last week to win at the same mark/class/trip. He's up 4lbs and up in class, but the drop back to 5f and a return to Wolverhampton are both positives as he's a 7-time winner (from 38 = 18.4%) at this track, including 2 wins from 9 over course and distance.
Qaaraat won a Class 6, 5f handicap at Southwell off a mark of 62 a year ago and has been really busy but unsuccessful since, losing 34 times in a row! Ten of those defeats have been over this course and distance, 24 have over over this trip and 24 under today's jockey. Racing from 3lbs out of the handicap, it's hard to see anything but a 35th straight loss.
Raabeh is a stablemate of Qaaraat and like him, he also races from out of the handicap (8lbs!) and is on a long losing run. In fact he has yet to win after 25 attempts including 13 on the A/W, 13 at 5f, 5 here at Wolverhampton and 4 over course and distance. He was a reasonable 3rd of 12 at Southwell a week ago, but up in both class and weight, he's likely to be 0/26 when he gets home on Monday evening.
Qaaraat & Raabeh certainly look like the weak links here and this is confirmed by looking at how the five have fared under similar conditions during the last couple of years, courtesy of Instant Expert...
...which suggests we should focus on the first three on the card. These all have plenty of amber, but Denzil's best form is at Class 6 and we should remember that Zapper Cass is 0 from 12 since mid-December 2020.
Of the three who look most likely to succeed, one is in drawn in stall 1 with the other two in 4 and 5 respectively and the draw stats suggest that a higher draw is more beneficial than a lower one, so that's going against Denzil's Laughing...
...whilst the pace stats say that leaders do really well, hold-up horses do really poorly and those in between the two do OK, but don't quite win as often as expected.
...and if we look at how these horses have run most recently...
...then it's Steelriver who looks worst positioned of my trio. Then again, he is the course and distance expert so if there's ever an exception to the rule he could well be it. If we stuck to the letter of the law, the high-drawn (esp stall 4) leader is the one to follow, but I really don't see Qaaraat landing this.
This should be pretty quick. I don't like stablemates Qaaraat & Raabeh for reasons I've made fairly clear, out of the handicap, out of form, up in weight/class etc. Zapper Cass is also on a poor run right now and probably needs a drop in mark and/or class to get him going again, which leaves me with Denzil's Laughing & Steelriver as my two to beat.
Of the two, Steelriver is the course expert and looks in the better form of the two LTO winners. He's won at this grade before unlike Denzil and he's my marginal pick. The bookies disagree and some have Steelriver as long as 10/3 with Denzil's Laughing as short as 10/11 in places. I though they'd be around 9/4 and 7/4 respectively, so I'm going to take some of the 10/3 about Steelriver and also play the forecasts.