Racing Insights

Racing Insights, Tuesday 22/02/22

Tuesday's free Geegeez Gold 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. 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.

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Tuesday's Shortlist looks like this...

and is complemented, like all our daily free features, by a selection of full free racecards and they will be...

  • 1.10 Navan
  • 1.20 Taunton
  • 2.30 Taunton
  • 4.05 Navan

Now, I'm not really a fan of Irish racing and the two free Taunton races don't really float my boat either, so I had a look at The Shortlist and only Copper Mountain was remotely interesting in the 7.00 Southwell, but he's likely to be a short-priced favourite and they don't excite me either.

So with all that in mind, I'll see you tomorrow!

Only joking, what I'm going to do is look at the highest class UK race for you instead and have a quick run through of the 3.40 Taunton, an 8-runner (possible E/W), Class 2, 4yo+ handicap hurdle worth £10,926. It features nine hurdles on a right handed 2m1f (after rail movements) trip on good to soft ground and here's the card...

LANGER DAN : won the Gr3 Imperial cup at Sandown last March and was then second behind Galopin des Champs in the Martin Pipe at Cheltenham just six days later in a race that might well have come a little too soon. This one hasn't though, he's not been seen for 340 days and despite his obvious class, may well need the run as he did at Market Rasen this time last year.

AJERO : finished 21111 in his first five over hurdles at Classes 4 then 3 from Oct'20 to Mar'21, but struggled in a couple of subsequent Class 1 races either side of a 204-day layoff. Hasn't raced since November when only 4th of 5 at Class 3 and this is tougher up in class.

ZAMBEZI FIX : a better hurdler than a chaser thankfully who has been a runner-up in Sandown handicaps on his last two hurdles efforts, firstly in a 2m Listed contest on good to soft ground going down by 8.5 lengths and then a half-length defeat over the same course and distance on heavy ground at this grade 45 days ago. Will run his race, but I doubt it'll be enough off 2lbs higher.

RESTANDBETHANKFUL : finished 211 on his first three hurdles outings (all at Class 4) before being unplaced 10 & 15 lengths off the pace at Class 2 then Class 3 last October. He benefited from a dropping handicap mark to then score at Class 3, but was pulled up last time out and I'm not sure he's a Class 2 racer just yet.

MACK THE MAN : might well run in Monday's 4.37 at Carlisle, but I doubt he'd win that or this one for that matter! He seems to go best after a lay-off (two wins and a runner-up in the last three seasons' first outings) and was beaten by almost 40 lengths last time out. Not for me.

TIMBERMAN : a winner of races 1,3 and 6 of so-far 6-race hurdling career is encouraging, but aside from a 35-length defeat in a Grade 1 at Aintree last April, this will be his first step higher than Class 3 and certainly the toughest handicap test to date. That said, he was comfortably impressive at Kempton last time out, winning by five lengths despite easing right down. The handicapper wasn't entirely fooled, though and he's up 6lbs to go with the step up in class, but he's clearly progressive and the drier weather will help.

BIRDS OF PREY : won back to back 2m/2m½f A/W handicaps around this time of year in 2020, but then didn't race for 21 months, eventually resurfacing at Exeter, where he expectedly toiled in a 2m2½f, soft ground Class 3 handicap hurdle finishing 8th of 11, 50 lengths off the winner. He then turned back out three weeks later (43 days ago) at Taunton and didn't look like he'd benefited from the comeback run, going down by 37 lengths at 7th of 8. A drop in trip might help, but I can't see the step up in class doing him any favours, so it's a no from me.

FONTANA ELLISSI : up 5lbs and 2 classes from an LTO win at Ffos Las at the start of the month, but still receives weight all round. He had two wins and two runner-up finishes from his six hurdles races for Nigel Twiston-Davies last year and that run LTO was his first for his new handler at the fourth attempt. This is clearly tougher, but he's still very weighted and in good nick.

Unfortunately, Instant Expert is largely inconclusive...

...but it does show that most of these should be fine with the trip. We've no Class 2 winners, sadly, but the above write-ups show that five of them have won at Class 3. We're lacking course experience in handicaps and both Langer Dan and Zambezi Fix are now off much higher marks than their last win. There's a strong suspicion that the race will be falsely run, as there's no real pace amongst this octet, based on their last four outings...

...although if the race needs to be taken on, then perhaps Ajero or Fontana Ellisi might be the ones to do it, but the latter has been held up in his last two, including that LTO win and with five others looking like they'll be in no rush early doors, we could have a "sprint" finish on our hands. That said, hold-up horses have a pretty poor record record in similar past contests...

Summary

Mack The Man, Zambezi Fix and Birds of Prey are the three weakest here in my opinion and with all three also being hold-up horses, I'm taking them out of the equation here.

The two I do like actually head the market, sadly with the 3/1 fav Timberman and the 7/2 Fontana Ellissi leading the way. I see these two as very closely matched. Both won last time out and both are up in weight and class. I'm leaning more towards Fontana Ellissi, as he gets weight from all the others and might well be the one setting the tempo of the race.

As for the other three runners, I don't think Restandbethankful is at Class 2 level just yet, but he's sure to be at some point (next season, perhaps?), Langer Dan is a class act, but this smells suspiciously like a seasonal pipe-opener like he did at Market Rasen last year and Ludlow the year before, with Cheltenham the target and Ajero could well be the best of that trio on the day. Don't get me wrong, had Langer Dan had a run recently, he'd not be 11/2 with Bet365 or even the 4/1 he is elsewhere, but with a lack of depth/quality in the race, Ajero really could nick third at an attractive E/W price of 10/1 with Bet365

EDIT : Mack The Man did run at Carlisle on Monday and did, as I expected, get well beaten. He trailed home last of five, almost 55 lengths behind the winner and some 42 lengths behind the fourth-placed horse and all in a Class 3 handicap. He'd have had no chance here, but has ruined the race from an E/W perspective for me.

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