Wow! Almost a quarter of the year gone already and another weekend is almost upon us. Thursday is many non-Gold subcribers' 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...
- 1.55 Naas
- 3.15 Warwick
- 3.35 Lingfield
- 3.40 Naas
- 4.25 Warwick
The first of the three free UK races is the best on paper and whilst it has a small field and likely short-priced favourite, I think it's a good race to look at and Instant Expert can be seen in action. So, that's the 3.15 Warwick, a 6-runner, Class 3, 5yo+ Handicap Chase (12 fences) over a left-handed 2m½f (after +83 yd rails adjustment) on good ground, that is softer in places and rain is forecast. It's worth a reasonable £10,130 and here's our half dozen runners...
We might only have six runners here, but the list of trainers/jockeys contains some of the sport's big hitters. The pick on form would have to be the top weight Prince Escalus who comes here on a hat trick, but three of his rivals (Rockstar Ronnie, Galop de Chasse & Casa Tall) have also won twice in their recent form line, leaving Moonlighter and Rikoboy as possible strugglers, especially as the latter is our only class mover, stepping up from being unplaced at Class 4 LTO.
All six have tasted success at similar trips to this one but none have won here at Warwick before, although I'm not sure many (if any) have actually raced here before. 12 to 27 is the range of days rested, so none are thrown back out quickly and none should be rusty and in need of a run. I think this might turn out to be a decent contest, so let's have a quick look at the runners individually, starting with top-weight...
Who looks the one to beat since being awarded an opening handicap mark of just 122 a little over a year ago. He duly won by 3 lengths over 2m5f at Market Rasen on handicap hurdle debut and has finished 33211 in five starts since with the last four being over fences. Having only gone down by a shirt head at Wetherby in October, he cold well be coming here seeking a four-timer. He's up another 8lbs here (so that's +19lbs in 53 weeks), but did win by 11 lengths LTO, so he might not yet under the assessor's grip.
Has gone the other way, having dropped 18lbs in the ratings in five months/five runs this season that have seen him fail to even make the frame. Last seen 19 days ago running third of five some 13.25 lengths behind Prince Escalus and although he's now 11lbs better, I don't see him bridging that gap on form.
Was last home of four, beaten by 41 lengths on chase debut last October, but that came after a 169 day absence which was quite similar to his 17.5 length defeat as fourth of five at Kempton recently, when returning from a 117 day break. He clearly runs better when not having so long off, as he won both starts in between the two fourth place finishes, so he could well here now having had that race 12 days ago.
Just 1 win from 13 starts to tell its own story and that's unlikely to improve, unless his sketchy jumping does. He gave the impression that he was going somewhere when a decent 1.5 length runner-up at Wincanton in early-January despite coming off a 41 week break, but that flattered to deceived and he has been poor in two runs since.
GALOP DE CHASSE
Has certainly benefited from a move from France to Venetia Williams' yard, where he has finished 1P2132 in handicap chases although he has toiled a little since being raised in the weights from a mark of 120. He's a horse I like, but I'd want him a few lighter and he's vulnerable here.
Ended last season and started this season with wins some 126 days apart and won again at Exeter two starts (November) later. He was travelling well and very much within himself when he fell at Newbury earlier this month and off bottom weight, you'd expect him to have a good go at it here.
Feature of the day Instant Expert tells us that...
...I was right about them not running here previously and that Prince Escalus looks the pick of the bunch. Yes, he's up 8lbs from LTO and is only 1 from 3 on good ground over fences, but has won on good ground over hurdles too. Moonlighter's 0 from 8 on the going is poor and I'm discounting his chances here, based that plus his recent form. Rockstar Ronnie should be fine with ground/class and although he has yet to win at the trip, two races is hardly abject failure and he has gone well at this trip over the smaller obstacles.
Rikoboy is another I'm not keen on, especially stepping up in class after a poor run of form and at some 15lbs higher than his last win, I'm struggling to say/type anything nice about him. Galop de Chasse should really enjoy the conditions, but as I said earlier, he's probably a little too high in the weights and his best form has come at Class 4. Casa Tall, on other hand, is just a pound higher than his last win, gets weight all round and has no red blocks, so should have suitable conditions.
I'm still not much nearer to finding one to beat Prince Escalus though, as he seems to have won that round too. Best on form, best from the write-ups and best on Instant Expert, it's going to take something to beat him here and the pace of the race might do that. He's a confirmed front-runner in a race that seems to have plenty of pace about it...
...and it looks like he might have company up top. I suppose if I want to see the fav overturned, then I need the past similar races to have been won by a hold-up horse, which brings Casa Tall right into contention. We'd better take a look...
Sadly, that's not good for Casa Tall at all (sorry for the rhyme). 30 of 37 (81.1%) winners raced prominently or led, as did 53 of 74 (71.6%) placers and if that rules out Casa Tall and I don't like Moonlighter or Rikoboy from above, then I'm down to three. I've already said that I like Galop de Chasse, but he's too high in the weights and is better at Class 4 so I couldn't back here, which means that almost by default, I've managed to get to my final two.
After consulting the toolkit and applying a process of elimination, I'm left with Prince Escalus and Rockstar Ronnie who look set to battle it out upfront. There's no getting away from the Prince as the more likely winner here and as such, it's no great surprise to see him installed as the early 15/8 favourite with Bet365, a price a little bit shorter than I'm normally comfortable at, but that could actually represent value later. There's not much juice in Ronnie's 7/2 ticket, but I do think we'll end up with a Prince Escalus/Rockstar Ronnie 1-2 here.