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Racing Insights, 17th April 2021

I couldn't really have got Friday's race more wrong if I'd tried, but when two of the first three home were 33/1 and the trifecta paid over £5,300, I'm guessing not many people did call it right.

Saturday's feature of the day is the excellent Trainer/Jockey combo report and our free races of the day are scheduled to be...

  • 12.25 Bangor
  • 1.40 Thirsk
  • 3.10 Curragh
  • 5.30 Brighton

Of our four feature races, only the first looks like not having a very short-priced favourite so today's focus falls upon the 12.25 Bangor, a 10-runner, Class 4 Handicap Chase for 5yo+ horses over 2m1½f on Good ground and one of the following will earn a prize of £3,594...

Swift Crusador sits second in the Geegeez ratings probably because he showed signs of a return to form last out when third in a higher grade over 2m4f at Wetherby. If truth be told, he'd struggled for a while before then and hasn't won a race since early December 2018. He might well be down in class and five pounds lower than that last win, but I don't see him triumphing here off top weight.

Pistol Park hasn't won a race since landing a 5-runner contest at Carlisle exactly and glimpses of any sign of another success have been few and far between since. He did finish second to an in-form rival back at Carlisle in February, but has disappointed since. That said, he's now on a career low mark and if running like he did three starts ago, he could sneak into the frame here.

Crooks Peak hasn't tackled fences in his last eight outings and has only been sent chasing three times in a 23-race career so far. He last jumped fences on his last run for Philip Hobbs when 2nd of 7 at Kempton over 2m2f in a higher grade than this and when you consider than he was only beaten by 1.25 lengths off a mark of 128, you'd have to consider him worthy of a chance here off 112, especially as he's now with Team Skelton, who are in great form right now and have a good record at this venue.

Elixir du Gouet was quite well respected in France over both hurdles and fences, but has suffered a bit of a stop/start time here in the UK, racing just three times in the last two years and being beaten by 51, 124 and 61 lengths respectively. I'd look elsewhere today.

Casa Tall won races over hurdles in France, but only made the frame twice in seven runs over the smaller obstacles after his move to the UK. He was a bit sketchy over fences on his first couple of attempts but got round move times and then showed some promise when only beaten by 6 lengths last time out. He's down a couple of pounds now and if continuing to improve, could get involved.

Discko des Plages won over fences at Catterick in mid-December despite not jumping well at all, but has run consistently well in five outings since, although he did unseat his rider when leading at Uttoxeter in February. He goes off the same mark as when runner-up twelve days ago, but with Brian Hughes taking over in the saddle, will be expected to be there or thereabouts again.

Tierra Verde won a couple of hurdle races in 2018 before taking 18 months off and has tackled fences just three times, finishing 4th of 14 (bt by 4.5L) and most recently 2nd of 14, going down by just a neck. She also ran in a bumper between those chase outings and was only 1.25 lengths off the pace in third place. She'd be of serious interest, but for stepping up in class and being some 12lbs worse off than LTO as she now runs off 106, but she had a 7lb claimer on board when she ran off 101 LTO.

Some Spin won a 2m maiden hurdle in Ireland last July, but has finished 899P0 since. The P was his only effort over fences when pulled up before 2 put over 2m at Class 5 two starts ago and was 10th of 15, beaten by 23 lengths over hurdles LTO. Not for me here up in class.

French Kiss has made the frame just once in fourteen career starts (5 flat, 4 A/W, 4 hrds, 1 chs) and ran out after the ninth fence on chase debut at Newton Abbot earlier this month. Easy to dismiss here.

Secret Melody finally got off the mark at the nineteenth time of asking last time out (8th over fences) by winning here at Bangor over course and distance, but that was eight months ago and he now races from 3lbs outside of the handicap. That said, he is the only C&D winner in the field, none of his rivals have won here at all and he is carrying virtually no weight. There's no guarantee he'll fire after a long lay-off, but if kicking on from that win, might be involved again.

At this point, I'll admit to already deciding that I certainly don't like four of them here, namely Elixir du Gouet, French Kiss, Some Spin and Swift Crusador and hopefully Instant Expert will back me up, where due to the lack of winners I've selected the place form...

There we get a reminder of Pistol Park's weight difference here and we do have some splashes of green, but nothing to push me towards/away from any runner in particular, if I'm honest.

I'v looked at the pace angle here and I'm told that you either want to lead the field round or you want sit towards the back, getting caught neither here not there hasn't been a successful tactic here in previous contests...

So, Secret Melody looks like the one to lead them out, but there's the obvious danger of him not staying the trip after eight months away from the track, whilst Crooks Peak is likely to be near the back, which could well be ideal for him to pick them all off late on.

Summary

For me, Crooks Peak is the one to beat here. I know we have to take his jumping for granted after hurdling for a while, but you can be sure the Skeltons will have schooled him well. After that there's a handful of runners who could all make the frame, despite seeming to be unsuited on race profile...

Casa Tall / Discko des Plages / Pistol Park / Secret Melody / Tierra Verde...

...and I think I might have to look at who has the fewest red flags and go with the ones I have least reservations about, which leads me to Discko des Plages and Casa Tall for the places.

I'm not surprised to see the bookies in fairly relative agreement with me, as Hills have installed Crooks Peak as the 5/2 favourite here. To be honest, he should be winning this, but it's not a shoo-in and I was rather hoping/expecting to get at least 4/1 about him.

Racing Insights, 11th November 2020

Getaround ran well for a long way on Tuesday, but was never able to open up a lead. He finally succumbed to faster finishers and the burden of top weight, going down by five lengths. On now to Wednesday, where the feature of the day is the Trainer Stats report, whilst our free cards are for...

  • 2.36 Exeter
  • 3.20 Dundalk
  • 3.25 Ayr
  • 5.35 Kempton
  • 6.05 Kempton

As we should all be, I'm a bit choosy about which races I look at / get involved in ans as those five contests are a novice chase, an A/W maiden, a bumper and two divisions of an A/W novice contest, I'll stay well away and revert back to the Trainer Stats report and the course 5 year handicap option, which throws up the following of interest...

...three runners in the same 7-horse contest, the 3.33 Bangor :  a Class 2, handicap hurdle for 3yo+ over 2m 3.5f on soft ground for a prize of £9,384. So let's follow my normal process of seeing whether any of our three runners are likely to feature in the final shake-up starting, of course with the racecard...

I've arranged the card into Geegeez ratings order with Chti Balko in third position and Bialco in fifth with a standardised rating of 93.5 and 80 respectively with the top three fairly closely bunched. Our third runner Tawseef has no rating having not seen a hurdle for almost 19 months!

Form-wise, Chti Balko is clearly the best of our three, but both Mint Condition and Chirico Vallis come here in better nick (and head the ratings). Bialco steps up one class from his last run 40 days ago, whilst the three class rise for Tawseef is a little misleading. He is up three classes from his last outing, but that was a Flat contest, he's only actually up one grade from his last hurdles effort back in April 2019 and he runs off a mark 5lbs lower than that run.

Both of our trainers (Lucinda Russell & Donald McCain) have the C5 icon denoting a good sustained record at this track, but Lucinda is just 1 from 29 in the last fortnight hence the 14 and sadly her jockey here, Derek Fox has the 14 and 30 by his name, as he is 0 from 22 over the past 30 days. Will Kennedy on board Chti Balko also has the 14 and 30 but does also carry the C5 tag, as he is 0 from 16 over the last fortnight, but has an excellent 18 from 81 (22.2%) record here at Bangor over hurdles since 2016.

Our next pieces of information are provided by the Instant Expert tab on the card...

...which again proves to be disappointing for our trio from a win perspective with not much green around. From a place perspective Chti Balko has made the frame in 3 of 5 efforts at this trip and in 5 of 9 in small fields, whilst Bialco has a 3 in 6 placed record over this trip. Tawseef does at least have a win from just three Class 2 contests.

This type of contest suits those who race prominently, especially those willing to set the pace, as shown by the pace stats for this race...

...which finally gives us a little optimism as Chti Balko and Tawseef both like to be towards the head of affairs, but our prediction of a contested lead probably won't do any of the front three any favours and if they burn each other out, that opens the door for a finisher.

So far, I've got to be honest and say that there's not much here to suggest we've got a winner in our trio of highlighted runners, but let's have a closer look at them...

Bialco : Won a soft ground Class 3 contest over 2m7f at Kelso just after Christmas last year but has disappointed since. Finished 5th of 8, beaten by 24 lengths last time out coming off the back of a 31 week absence, so he probably needed the run. Unfortunately, he's now up in class and his record of 3 wins from 16 over hurdles doesn't really suggest a win here when you consider that they include 0 from 6 under jockey Derek Fox, 1 from 5 on soft, 0 from 5 at Class 2, 0 from 2 at 2m3.5f/2m4f and 0 from 1 here at Bangor. Best left alone.

Chti Balko : a winner over class, course and distance three starts ago, when pretty much making all on heavy ground to score by ten lengths and was a good second next time out at Haydock. Off the track for 10 months, though, and may very well need the run.

Has won 4 of 20 over hurdles, including 3 from 8 on heavy ground which could be useful should conditions deteriorate.

Tawseef : hasn't raced for over 15 months, hasn't won for nearly 17 months and it's almost 19 months since he last saw a hurdle, never mind a win in this sphere (that was some 35 months back!). Hard to imagine that at 12 yrs old, he's going step back up in class to land this, but has won his fair share in the past.

A veteran of 84 races across A/W, Flat and hurdles, winning 12 (14.3%) of them in a decent career, but better on the Flat it has to be said. 3 from 15 on soft ground and 3 from 14 on heavy suggest he's like the mud but those become 0 from 7 and 1 from 10 over hurdles, so may be not. He's 6 from 20 for this yard and 2 from 8 under this jockey, but I don't fancy his chances at all.

Summary

Of our three from the report, Chti Balko has the best chance, as I wouldn't be surprised if Bialco & Tawseef are the last two home here. But, that's where the optimism ends to be honest. There's a possibility Chti Balko goes well and makes the frame, but he has been off the track a ljg time and I think he'll do well to finish in the top three, as I expect Mint Condition and Chirico Vallis to be the ones to beat here.

Stat of the Day, 25th August 2020

Monday's pick was...

3.10 Ayr : Equidae @ 4/1 BOG WON at 5/1 (Tracked leader, challenged 2f out, soon led, ridden and kept on well final furlong) 

Tuesday's pick runs in the...

3.05 Bangor :

Before I post the daily selection, just a quick reminder of how I operate the service. Normally, I'll identify and share the selection between 8.00am and 8.30am and I then add a more detailed write-up later within an hour or so of going "live".

Those happy to take the early price on trust can do so, whilst some might prefer to wait for my reasoning. As I fit the early service in around my family life, I can't give an exact timing on the posts, so I suggest you follow us on Twitter and/or Facebook for instant notifications of a published pick.

Who?

Do You Know What @ 4/1 BOG

...in a 9-runner, Class 5, Handicap Chase for 4yo+ over 2m4½f on Soft ground worth £3,574 to the winner... 

Why?...

As usual, the racecard holds several clues...

As you can see by their respective 14, 30 and C5 icons, the Skeltons are in good form and have a good record at this track. The report angle shows they are 3 from 6 together over the last fortnight and then my own (once-again imaginatively entitled) angles tell me that Dan Skelton is one of a number of trainers who do well with Class 4/5 chasers (not all 2876 runners are his!) and he's also one of mine to follow over fences here at Bangor and I'll explain those two angles briefly for you.

We'll start with C4/5 Chs and this is the criteria I apply to the Skelton chasers...

...which has generated the following pretty self-explanatory results.

If we now take a quick look at Dan Skelton's Bangor chasers, we see that those sent off at 9/1 or shorter since the start of 2015 are...

including of relevance today...

  • 9/27 (33.3%) for 19.23pts (+71.2%) with Harry Skelton in the saddle
  • 9/24 (37.5%) for 22.23pts (+92.6%) within 60 days of their last run
  • 3/9 (33.3%) for 8.25pts (+91.7%) over this course and distance
  • and 2/4 (50%) for 11.94pts (+298.4%) on soft ground...

...whilst Harry + 1-60dslr = 9/22 (40.9% SR) for 24.23pts (+110.1% ROI), inc 2/4 at C&D and 2/3 on soft.

One last thing that I want to touch on is the adoption of cheekpieces today. This 7 yr old mare has only worn them once before and that was eight races and almost two years ago, but I'm always interested in chasers suddenly sporting headgear, because...

...during May to September (my summer chasing season) since the start of 2016, handicap chasers sent off at Evens to 15/2 wearing headgear after failing to make the frame without any LTO are...

Now, it could just be coincidental, but that's a lot of winners/profit from a decent sample size to be pure chance, surely? And from those 240 runners, we have...

  • 59/223 (26.5%) for 96.1pts (+43.1%) in fields of 5-12 runners
  • 51/198 (25.8%) for 77.6pts (+39.2%) at 6-60 dslr
  • 42/154 (27.3%) for 69.2pts (+44.9%) in cheekpieces
  • 38/124 (30.7%) for 88.9pts (+71.7%) were beaten by more than 15 lengths LTO
  • and 24/96 (25%) for 42.3pts (+44%) stepped up in trip by up to 5.5 furlongs

As I said, it could be pure coincidence, but those wearing cheekpieces in 5-12 runner contests 6-60 days after being beaten by more than 15 lengths are 21 from 59 (35.6% SR) for 58.3pts (+98.8% ROI), including 3 from 3 in the last four weeks...

...pointing towards... a 1pt win bet on Do You Know What @ 4/1 BOG (or bigger in places) as was available at 8.20am Tuesday (a bit later than usual after a swathe of non-runners), but as always please check your own BOG status (*some firms are not BOG until later in the morning)To see a small sample of odds offered on this race...

...click here for the betting on the 3.05 Bangor

Don't forget, we offer a full interactive racecard service every day!

REMINDER: THERE IS NO STAT OF THE DAY ON SUNDAYS

Here is today's racecard

P.S. all P/L returns quoted in the stats above are to Betfair SP, as I NEVER bet to ISP and neither should you. I always use BOG bookies for SotD, wherever possible, but I use BFSP for the stats as it is the nearest approximation I can give, so I actually expect to beat the returns I use to support my picks. If that's unclear, please ask!