Tuesday's free feature is The Shortlist, a simple and usually brief report highlighting those horses with a largely ‘green’ profile in the Instant Expert Report each day and it covers win or place stats, and can be viewed for both today’s and tomorrow’s racing.
GREEN is good (33% or better win rate) – worth 3 points
AMBER is quite good (16-32% win rate) – worth 1 point
RED is not so good (0-15% win rate) – worth -1 points
GREY means there is no available data for that factor - worth 0 points
The final column, ‘Score’, is the sum of the previous five ‘colour’ columns, with 15 being an all green profile, and 9 being the lowest score appearing on this report.
HINT: The best bets are not necessarily the highest scores. Rather, they are often the biggest difference between a Shortlist horse and the ‘best of the rest’ in that race.
N.B. Shortlist selections are unlikely to make a profit, at SP at least, to blind backing. Our recommendation is – and has always been – that The Shortlist should be a starting point rather than an end in itself. That said, it continues to highlight horses whose chance is better than recent form - and its odds - imply.
In addition to The Shortlist we also have our usual selection of full free racecards for non-Gold subscribers and for Tuesday they are...
- 2.25 Taunton
- 3.35 Taunton
- 5.30 Southwell
And in the absence of anything jumping out from The Shortlist, I'm going to tackle the middle one of the 'free' races, the 3.35 Taunton, a 10-runner, Class 4, 4yo+ Handicap Hurdle over a right-handed 2m1f, taking in nine flights on Good To Soft ground...
The form horses appear to be Amelia's Dance and Dr T J Eckleburg, but Breguet Boy, Seventeen O Four and City derby all have at least one win in their recent form line. Breguet Boy, however, is a negative when it comes to class, as he's up two levels here as the only class riser, whilst the top two on the card are both down one class with natural History down from Class 2 LTO. A couple of these are inexperienced in handicap company with Seventeen O Four making a debut LTO three weeks ago and this will be Dr T J Eckleburg's first crack at a handicap, but he does look really leniently treated off an opening mark of 115. There shouldn't be any rustiness here, as they've all been out in the last seven weeks and all bar Iron Mike has won over this trip, with Amelia's Dance the only course and distance winner (LTO & 2LR).
It's a Class 4 race, which means that there's not likely to be much jumping from Instant Expert, but it might help us to eliminate a few suspects from our enquiries...
...and with a 0 from 10 record at Class 4 amongst a line of red, it's probably the end of the road for Iron Mike here. Although, there's lots of red elsewhere too (mainly for good to soft ground), it is generally based off a small sample size of runs and not enough to totally deter me from any of the other nine.
Over the years, this type of contest has favoured those runners who like to be up with the pace and hold-up runners have fared exceptionally badly, as you can see below...
And here's how this field have raced in their most recent runs...
...which doesn't read well for form horse Dr T J Eckleburg, but it's worth a reminder that only his last two runs were over hurdles and that he won last time out after a change of tactics to prominent running. And based on the above, the one I'd be most worried for would be City Derby, who has been held up in each of his last three runs.
Now unusually at this stage, I've only really eliminated two runners, leaving me with eight still in contention...
Sage Advice has been last of five and 9th of 10, beaten by 26.5 and 46.5 lengths respectively in his last two starts, so he's out.
Sofia's Rock hasn't won for nearly two years and last ran a decent race in November 2019, so I'm not keen on him either.
Breguet Boy is better than his formline might suggest, as his last dozen races have all been on the Flat/AW, whilst his form over hurdles reads 12316 with a 12.5 length defeat at Class 2 being his last effort back in March. Could do well here, but will probably need the run.
Natural History drops two classes here, but has run poorly of late being pulled up at Fontwell in November, then 6th of 9 at Doncaster before being beaten by over 50 lengths as last home of eight at Sandown last time out. This is easier on paper, he's dropping down the handicap and his yard are going well, so a recovery may be on the cards.
Pawpaw looked decent enough at this level last spring when landing a maiden and narrowly failing on handicap debut, but has struggled since, losing each of his last four by an average of 17 lengths despite dropping in class twice along the way. Probably not good enough here.
Amelias Dance has roared into life of late finishing third at Fontwell in December before back to back course and distance wins here, all under today's jockey Tabitha Worsley (the pair are 13311 together) She's up 5lbs here but that might not be enough stop her, the mood she's in!
Seventeen O Four has only tackled hurdles three times and after winning a novice event at Chepstow at the second time of asking, was well beaten (20L) on handicap debut at Exeter last month. A drop in trip and weight (-2lbs) might help, but I think he'd need more to get involved here.
Dr T J Eckelburg was second of nine on hurdles debut in mid-December, only beaten by Forever William whose two subsequent runs have seen him make the frame at Grades 1 & 2, so no disgrace in defeat for the doctor. After that defeat on debut at Newbury, he was a comfortable winner under today's jockey at Ludlow and although I wouldn't say he was thrown in here off a mark of 115, it certainly looks workable and possibly lenient.
I think this has to be a contest between the form horses, Dr T J Eckleburg and Amelia Dance. The latter is proven over course and distance, having scored here on her last two runs, whilst the former's run last time out was so comfortable. This has the makings of a decent scrap amidst a pretty dreadful supporting cast and they're my 1-2. I think the Doctor should beat the mare, but I think it might be closer than the bookies' best prices of 11/8 and 13/2 might suggest.
I don't normally back E/W at shorter than 8's, but Amelia's Dance might well be worth a place bet at those odds. For third, the rest are much of a muchness and if pushed, I'd probably want to look at Natural History, but with no real confidence about him and I think he's a bit short in the market.