The 2.40 at Haydock on Saturday, a handicap to be run over an extended 3m1f and shown on ITV4, looks a very interesting contest and hopefully one we can find an edge in using a selection of the brilliant data on offer through Geegeez Gold.
As with any race, pace and any potential pace bias is of great interest in figuring out this puzzle.
Using the Pace Analyser we can get a nice enough sample size on soft or heavy ground by using a slightly wider distance range (3m to 3m4f) and by including handicaps containing between 8 and 12 runners.
As is often the case, those nearer the pace tend to have an advantage over those that are ridden more patiently. This advantage is not necessarily considered by the bookmakers with several betting related metrics such as WIN PL and EW PL both showing that front runners and prominent racers produce far better returns than those that race in mid division or are held up.
Let’s have a look at the pace map for this race to see which runners might be advantaged by this bias.
We could be set for a contested pace here with Roll Again and Hill Sixteen often keen to get on with things. The four runners who are likely to be ridden most patiently in this race are all amongst the least well fancied in the market and if the two front runners to take each other on and compromise each other’s chances then from a pace perspective the most interesting runners in this contest are likely to be Lord Napier, Enqarde, Sojourne and Crixus’s Escape.
Instant Expert is always worth a look in every race, especially races that are set to be run on heavy ground as this one is.
There is a decent level of placed heavy ground form in handicaps here, Sojourn perhaps best on show with two places from two efforts in heavy. Roll Again is not only likely to be taken on for the lead but also failed to place on his only run on heavy ground. That run was two starts ago when beaten 97 lengths which is a massive worry but it was his first run for 248 days.
Hill Sixteen and Highest Sun seem reliable propositions in this race class. Lord Napier has failed to make the frame in three runs in this class and Crixus’s Escape is 0 from 2 in class 2 races.
Course handicap form is thin on the ground but Pop Rockstar does at least have a 50% place record at Haydock. Sam’s Adventure, Crixus’s Escape and Lord Napier all failed to place in their one handicap run here.
We have a distance range set in Instant Expert which is showing us data from runs between 3m and 3m2f. Sojourn now looks consistent both in the ground and at this trip with a 100% place record over these trips in handicaps from three runs. Lord Napier and Enqarde also have a 100% place record from fewer runs. Roll Again is once again a negative, as are Crixus’s Escape and Salty Boy.
Sojourn and Enqarde have both run well from limited opportunities in this sort of field size. Highest Sun, Pop Rockstar and Roll Again all get a ‘tick’ having provided more data. The negatives would be Crixus’s Escape and Lord Napier.
Highest Sun is well handicapped on older form as he’s now 8lbs lower than his last handicap win. The rest of the runners are either higher than their last winning marks or have never won a handicap before.
Now let’s take a look at the win data in Instant Expert:
Sojourn once again scores very well for both going and distance which proves conditions will be absolutely fine for him. We don’t know about the class or course for this runner but he’s potentially progressive in these conditions.
Sam’s Adventure and Hill Sixteen look largely good here whilst that comment could also apply to Pop Rockstar who generally scores well but has only won once from five attempts on heavy ground.
Lord Napier has a lot of warning signs across the board whilst it’s difficult to weight up Enqarde here with so few qualifying runs.
Roll Again has some interesting trainer snippets in his favour. For the distance range and last time out winners in handicaps his trainer has an IV of 1.64 and 1.51 respectively.
Three runners whose trainers win more than their fair share of handicaps in general are Sojourn (IV 2.0), Crixus’s Escape (IV 1.78) and Salty Boy (IV 1.67).
Sojourn is also highlighted for winning a race that was hot form. His win on seasonal debut in heavy ground has thrown up four subsequent winners and two next time out runners ups which shows that race in great light. He won that race by 15 lengths and although now up 11lsb, that could be lenient for winning a race of that depth in that kind of style.
The trainer and jockey combination for Crixus’s Escape is worthy of closer inspection. The Boanas/Quinlan double act have a 25% win strike rate over the past year and have produced an IV of 2.50. Sean Quinlan is also certainly a jockey in good current form, over the past 30 days he has generated a WIN PL of 30.25 if backed blind.
Lord Napier represents a trainer and a jockey who score well as individuals both over the long term (5 years) and the short term (30 days). You can see their stats below.
Sojourn does look extremely solid from all angles here, representing Anthony Honeyball and Geegeez sponsored jockey Rex Dingle. It’s difficult to pick many holes in him and although he’s the early favourite, he still looks a fair price and should be perfectly positioned here. Picking a main danger is tough with many in with a decent chance but Crixus’s Escape does look interesting based on several angles.