Thursday is many non-Gold subscribers' favourite day, because our free feature is the INSTANT EXPERT, by far the most popular tab on the geegeez racecards because it has the ability to condense the entire form profile of every runner in the race into a single, easily digestible, view.
The report covers the form in terms of wins (or places), runs, and win (or place) percentage for each of going, class, course, distance, and field size. It also compares today’s official rating with the horse’s last winning official rating. The display is colour coded: green for a higher percentage rate, amber for a middling percentage, and red for a low percentage. Horses with no form under a certain condition have grey figures.
IMPORTANT NOTE: Where a horse has no UK/Irish form – i.e. it is having its first run in Britain or Ireland under Rules – it will not show up on Instant Expert at all.
In addition to this excellent feature, we also offer the following free fully functional racecards...
- 1.50 Newmarket
- 2.15 Ripon
- 3.35 Newmarket
- 4.25 Cheltenham
- 7.00 Bath
...where I'm going to dip a tentative toe into the waters of Flat racing handicaps for the first time this season by looking at the 2.15 Ripon, a 10-runner, Class 4, 4yo+ handicap over a straight 6f on soft ground, which will be heavy in places with showers forecasted and we start as ever by quickly making a note of what the racecard tells us...
...working from left to right, starting with...
"Recent" results : Half of the field (Mark's Choice, Tommy Taylor, Kapono, It Just Takes Time & Wades Magic have won at least one of their last five races with Mark's Choice, It Just Takes Time & Wades Magic probably the 'form' picks and Shark Two One, Fortamour & Golden Apollo the least compelling.
Class : Fortamour, Manigordo, Tommy Taylor and Kapono all drop down a level here, but It Just Takes Time is up in class on his debut for his new yard (denoted by TC)
Course/Distance success : All ten have managed to win at least once over this 6f trip and Mark's Choice, Fortamour and Wade's magic have all won over 6f here at Ripon.
Days Since Run : Four of the field (Follow Your Heart 13d, Tommy Taylor 17d, Shark Two One 18d & Fortamour 18d) have had the benefit of a recent run already this spring, but the remainder haven't graced a track for between 160 and 229 days!
Trainer/Jockey Form : Not a lot to write home about if truth be told : lots of red icons dotted about, but both trainer & jockey of Mark's Choice seem to be in decent nick (30), whilst the jockeys on board Golden Apollo & It Just Takes Time would appear to have good records here at Ripon (C1 C5)
Has four wins and three further places from nine over course and distance. Ended last season with a win here over 5f and his last three runs at this track have seen him finish 121 including a Class 2 course and distance success. hasn't raced since that win in late September, but also won here in late September 2020 prior to another 201 day absence before winning this race last year, so goes well enough fresh.
SHARK TWO ONE
Finished 8th of 9 and 9th of 11 in his final two runs of 2021 and returned to action recently after 162 days off track, but could only manage 16th of 18 over 7f at Doncaster. Down in trip, but it looks a tough ask.
Has a win and a place from three efforts over C&D and was a reasonable 5th of 18 in a higher grade at Doncaster recently off the back of four months off. The second and third from that race have both stepped up to Class 2 and made the frame, so a similar run dropped down to Class 4 puts him right in contention, you'd have thought?
Generally runs (largely unsuccessfully) in a higher grade and comes here off the back of a good run on soft ground at Haydock when 4th of 17 at Class 3, beaten by less than two lengths at a decent price. That, however, was virtually six months ago and he finished last of 11 on April 2021's comeback from a similar break.
5 from 53 isn't a great return and he's 0 from 18 since winning at Ayr way back in September 2019. Sadly he's still only 10lbs lower than that win and based on his reappearances from breaks in the past (unplaced in all 6 of 120+day returns), he wouldn't be on my list of contenders here.
Won four on the bounce over 6 and 7 f at Newcastle in Jan/Feb this year, but a mark in the high 70's seems to have stopped his progress. His record on turf is poor at 2 from 45, having lost all 35 races since winning at York in September 2017. Not for me here even if...
Won over 6f (C5, soft) at Haydock last May and over over 6f on the tapeta at Newcastle in September, but does tend to blow hot and cold (mainly cold) and was a disappointing 12th of 14 last time out and now comes back after 177 days rest and isn't known for doing much first up. By Kuroshio...
FOLLOW YOUR HEART
This 4 yr old had an up and down 2021, winning 3 of 11 runs, but also had a last of four, and 8th of 9 and a last of 8 in there too. His sole Flat win came on heavy ground at Doncaster last July, when he had to dig in deep to win by half a length over 5½f, so that's a positive, but that was 12 runs and 2 trainers ago! Ran well on his second outing for his latest trainer at the start of this month, though, when 3rd of 13, beaten by just a neck and a half length over 7f at Leicester.
IT JUST TAKES TIME
Largely unsuccessful (1 from 7) on the A/W, but is 2 from 5 on the Flat, having won each of his last two outings, both Class 5 6f affairs at Leicester and then Redcar in August of last year. Now re-emerging after the best part of 7.5 months off to make a debut for Mark Walford, who could do with a winner, but his rider is having a decent spell...
1 from 1 over C&D and made the frame on his only other visit to this track, when beaten by just over half a length over 5f last August kicking off a string of results reading 31123 to end his season. winner. His mark remains unchanged from that third place finish at Catterick in October 170 days ago, but he's going to have to do much better than his runs in 2020 & 2021 after a break where he was last of ten after 239 days and 7th of 8 after 160 days.
So, at this point, I've got a mental list of who I might like and also of who I don't like and the next thing to consider is how they've raced in similar conditions in the past and we do this via feature of the day Instant Expert, which should be pretty explanatory when you see it...
...as you can see, I've added an extra column for heavy ground as that can often be a decisive factor if conditions worsen. As it is, they've not much heavy ground experience anyway. As for the graphic above, the green boxes speak for them selves and the bigger the sample sie the more reliable the results should be. The red boxes are good to eliminate runners and again I'm interested in bigger sample sizes to see those who've consistently failed like Shark Two One (trip), Manigordo (trip), Golden Apollo (going, track, trip), Tommy Taylor (going, class, trip)and Kapono (going, class, trip). In fact, I'd go as far as to say that Instant Expert allied with the resumés above omits those five from my considerations now, leaving me with the five in stalls 1, 2, 3, 7 & 8 as we consider...
...where stalls 6 to 8 seem to fare best for winners, giving an edge to It Just Takes Time & Fortamour, whilst the pace stats stats tell us that those setting the pace are the ones to be on, although the prominent chasers have held their own...
Based on this field's last four outings...
...that's going to favour Wade's Magic & Follow Your Heart most, leaving only last year's winner Mark's Choice as the only one not seemingly favoured by pace or draw. That said, his record over course and distance means he can't be ruled out, despite those stats above, which are admittedly only from 14 races.
I fear the old adage "Horses for Courses" is one that we can't ignore here and I can see Mark's Choice, the winner of this race last year, going well again. He doesn't look well suited by the draw, but closer analysis shows that he's 1 from 2 in the lowest quarter of the draw here at Ripon, 2/4 in the 2nd quarter, 1 from 4 in the 3rd quarter and 2 from 3 in the highest quarter, so I'm happy that he's not in stalls 3 to 5. Pace-wise, he knows what's needed here, he won here first up last season and at 4/1, he's the one to beat, I think.
Fortamour also won over C&D last season and went well on his reappearance 18 days and I think he'll make the frame, but Follow Your Heart went even better last time out and he might end up being the biggest danger to Mark's Choice.