Little went to plan at Lingfield for me today, as course specialist Fizzy Feet abandoned his expected tactics and did what needed to be done ie make all to win. The fact that leading is the best plan at Lingfield was about the only thing I called right, other than it was a tight contest that would be tough to call.
Battered, but not quite defeated, I'll pick myself up for one last tilt at it for this week with a look towards Saturday's racing. Feature of the day is the Trainer/Jockey combo report, whilst our free races are...
- 1.22 Navan
- 1.30 Haydock
- 3.00 Ascot
- 4.05 Newcastle
Our four free races are a 20-runner maiden hurdle, a 5-runner novice hurdle, a race that Sam Darby has already previewed elsewhere on the site and an 8-runner A/W handicap that looks a 2 horse race with both at short odds, so its off to the Trainer/Jockey combo report (1 year) and a bit of a Geegeez feel to it all, as we sponsor both yard and jockey...
Matt mentioned in his mail-out that no jockey riding at Haydock on Saturday has a better IV in heavy ground in the past 5 years than Geegeez-sponsored Ben Godfrey (2.59) and that's got to be a positive before we even start.
Sam Brown is a 9 yr old gelding, who runs in a Grade 2 handicap chase over 3m2f, whilst Le Coeur Net is another 9 yr old gelding, but he goes in a Class 3 handicap chase over 2m0.5f.
We know from above that the Honeyball/Godfrey alliance has 8 wins and 2 places from 19 over the past year, but those 19 runs include...
- 7 from 18 in handicaps & 8/13 at odds shorter than 9/1
- 6/11 on heavy ground & 3/9 on male runners
- 2/8 over fences and 3/5 in January
- 3/4 at Class 3, but no run at Class 1
- 2/4 with Le Coeur Net, but Ben rides Sam Brown for the first time here.
So, to the races, starting with the 2.40 Haydock...
Sam Brown makes his handicap debut here, our racecard snippets show that Anthony Honeyball has a good record with handicap debutants and they also show that Ben Godfrey is in good nick right now. We already know about the trainer/jockey combo and that Ben rides well on heavy ground.
Instant Expert shows the horse in a very good light and he comes here on the back of finishing third in a Listed event twelve weeks ago. In his defence, he ran for a good while before fading as you'd expect after a 260-day absence. Aside from that run, he was two from three over fences including a Grade 2 win here at Haydock on heavy ground a year ago. He was rated at 148 at the time of that race and won comfortably by 15 lengths, earning him his current mark of 152, which doesn't look too much of an imposition here, especially if you consider that Ben Godfrey can take 5lbs off.
On top of the stats shown in Instant Expert, he is 4 from 4 going left handed, 3 from 4 when not favourite, 2 from 4 over fences, 2 from 2 in January and 1 from 2 at Grade 2, with that Gr 2 heavy ground chase win here a year ago very relevant today.
He likes to get on with things, as shown by the pace tab and that's a tactic that has paid dividends in the past here at Haydock and I'd expect a similar bold show this time, especially if the first-time tongue tie does the job.
Did you know? Anthony Honeyball's runners tongue tied for the first time are 6 from 17 (35.3% SR) since the start of 2020.
And now to the 3.50 Haydock...
Once again, the racecard reminds us of Ben Godfrey's form and the TJ Combo stats and Instant Expert also shows that Le Coeur net has some form under the conditions he's likely to face here. In 20 handicap starts over fences, he has made the frame 10 times, winning 5 of them, which is a decent return, although he was a tad disappointing seven weeks ago at Chepstow and will need to improve/bounce back from that, but he had won all three of his previous completed (5 starts in total) runs before that race.
In relation to this race, his 20 handicap chase efforts include...
- 5 wins, 5 places from 19 in a tongue tie & 4 wins, 4 places from 13 going left handed
- 3 wins, 4 places from 13 as a non-fav & 3 wins, 2 places from 10 on heavy ground
- 3 wins, 2 places from 9 under Ben Godfrey & 4 wins, 1 place from 7 over 2m to 2m1f
- 3 wins, 1 place from 6 in cheekpieces & 2 wins from 5 in fields of 8-11 runners
- 1 from 2 at Class 3, 1/2 in January, 1/1 after 1-2 months rest, but 0/1 here at Haydock.
All of which points to him having a decent chance of at lest making the frame, if previous form is anything to go by. He is, however, effectively 6lbs worse off than when he last won (2 starts ago) and only a pound better off than that poor run last time out.
Regarding the pace of the race, we've not got enough past data from similar contests to assess what would be the best way of approaching this contest tactically, but it does look like four or five of them will want to get on with it early doors and this could lead them to taking each other on, doing too much and leaving the door open for what is essentially the bottom half of the pace graphic.
We'll start with Sam Brown, who I have as second best here in my mind behind likely favourite Royale Pagaille with Sam's Adventure my third pick. I suspect that the market might well agree, I'll find out soon. My issue with Royale Pagaille is the weight, he won a soft ground, Class 2 contest over 3 miles by just over three lengths last time out and as he steps up in class and trip here, the ground will be bottomless and he has been raised some 16lbs, which seems punitive.
As for Le Coeur Net, he's definitely good enough to win this, although I rate him fourth here, marginally ahead of long-term absentee Reivers Lad but behind Destined To Shine, Protek des Flos and Black Pirate. As I suggested earlier, Protek might get involved in a burn-out up front, enabling Le Coeur Net to make the frame late on. The question is which horse turns up for Mr Honeyball : the impressive chaser from Plumpton & Ffos Las last November or the Chepstow version from seven weeks ago.
I've now seen the markets, Sam Brown is a best-priced 7/2 second favourite, I had hoped for 4's or better, whilst Le Coeur Net is 11/2, whereas I expected something in the region of 15/2.
I can't back the latter each way at 11/2 and I have reservations over his chances of winning here, so I'll leave him out, but I will chance a couple of quid on Sam Brown at 7/2.