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Racing Insights, 28th May 2021

Friday's free feature is the Horses for Courses report, which highlights runners with good past records at the track they're racing at next and our free races of the day are...

  • 1.45 Brighton
  • 2.30 Yarmouth
  • 3.05 Yarmouth
  • 3.15 Carlisle
  • 5.45 Stratford
  • 6.55 Stratford

I've no qualifiers on my Horses for Courses report and the only one of the above races that remotely interests me is the 3.15 Carlisle, so let's take a look at this 11-runner, Class 6, Flat Handicap for 3yo+ horses over 6f on Soft ground. First prize is a fairly meagre £2,322 and here's the card...

Iris Dancer is the sole LTO winner and in fact is the only runner with a recent win on the formline. Five of the field are dropping in class, three make handicap debuts, one runs for the second time in a handicap and one makes a yard debut. Just three trainers are highlighted for a good course record (C5) and just one jockey has that indicator too.

All bar Astapor (246 days off) have raced in the last six weeks and the official handicapper has the field spread over 16lbs top to bottom.

Iris Dancer produced her best effort to date in getting off the mark at the eighth attempt last out. She won a heavy ground 6f contest at Ripon just under a fortnight ago and a similar effort puts her in the mix, even if she does carry a penalty for that win.

Strangerontheshore ran well enough last time out in finishing fifth of 11 at Nottingham over 6f on soft ground 10 days ago. Although she was beaten by over four lengths that day, it was her best handicap run. Her slow/steady improvement would have to ramp up, though, for her to get involved here.

Time Has Wings has yet to make the frame on the Flat in seven outings, but she was only beaten by a head last time out at Wolverhampton when blinkered for the first time. This is such a mediocre contest that a similar effort puts her right in the mix.

Walter is yet to make the frame after three starts. Down in class and trip, but he'll need to improve to be in the shake-up on his handicap debut and off a mark of 57 hasn't been done many favours by the handicapper.

Loweswater had a fairly poor 2yo season, making the frame just once in six starts and she picked up where she left off by getting beat by 8 lengths on her comeback from 196 days off the track last time out at Catterick five weeks ago. She's entitled to come on for the run, but it would have to be some serious come on!

Caprese Girl looks the type who might improve in handicap company and wasn't disgraced last time out when 7th of 12 at Doncaster last time out. She was coming off a break, but was less than seven lengths off the pace and now drops in class and trip for a handicap debut. She could well make the frame here as one of the "least poor".

Astapor hasn't been seen since going down by 19 lengths at Kempton eight months ago. He has moved yards during his absence and you can't help but think he'll need the run and he might find the trip too short.

Desert Cat ended her 2020 season with a decent 3rd of 12 at Wolverhampton back in November, beaten by just a length and a half. Sadly she has returned to action this year with two poor efforts (11th of 14 and 10th of 11). Now drops from 1m2f to 6f and that looks like desperation to me.

Porth Diana ran better than 7th of 15 on handicap debut last time out might suggest. She was beaten by less than 3.5 lengths and the winner has since won again off 6lbs higher. A similar effort here could see her make the frame in just here third start on turf.

Lady of Desire ran really well to finish second at Wolverhampton last time out, defying a 22/1 price tag to get within three quarters of a length of a horse rated 57 who has since made the frame again off 62. Lady of Desire goes off 48 today and if repeating that form would be in with a chance of at least grabbing some pace money.

Tiberius Augustus has the breeding to suggest he's going to be useful, but you won't have got that feeling from his three runs so far. Admittedly, they've all been at a higher class than today, but losing by 17 lengths over 5f is going to take some turning around. He hasn't finished any nearer than ten lengths behind a winner so far and I don't see that changing here, sadly.

Some Class 6 handicaps are decent little contests with some interesting aspects to them. This isn't one of them, I'm afraid but like all races of all classes, it will have a winner, so I'd like to find it nonetheless!

Between them, this field have raced 68 times, making the frame just 9 times with just one of those 9 places converted to a win. I'll show you the win & place figures for this bunch on Instant Expert, but I'd imagine all it will show you is how poor these runners are!

I think those screenshots speak for themselves, there's really not much I can add other than Strangerontheshore now doesn't look as bad as I painted her earlier! Iris Dancer is the standout, of course.

The draw stats done by sector would appear to massively favour the high draw here...

...but remember I keep telling you to challenge the data and to drill down into stats? Because this from the same results paints a slightly different picture...

And on the basis of that, I say there's no discernible bias at play here. Stall 1 hasn't won, but 9 placers say it's not a bad place to run from and stall 7's figures are just an anomaly, surely?

In those same races, hover, there's a distinct advantage for both winners and placrs in running close to if not setting the pace...

...and when you tie this in with the draw data from above, we get this heatmap...

Basically, you don't want to be held up, the Carlisle closing stretch up the hill will kill you on soft ground, but all draws can win and most running styles can win, so let's see how our runners fit onto that heatmap...

To be honest here, none of them leap out based on the above, but Caprese Girl might take another step forward, whilst Lady of Desire might even end up taking Desert Cat on for the lead.

Summary

I don't want to say too much abut this one, it's poor, but I think it's a 2-horse race with Iris Dancer beating Time Has Wings. Third place should probably go to one of Caprese Girl or Lady of Desire with a really marginal preference for the former.

The bookies also see it as a two-horse encounter, pricing them up at 7/2 and 10/3, which actually looks generous, whilst the two battling for minor honours might both be worth a small E/W punt at 10's.

Racing Insights, 3rd April 2021

No shirking off on Good Friday here with racing to cover for Easter Saturday. We'll be aided in our quest by free access to the wonderful Trainer/Jockey Combo report as well as the following races of the day...

  • 1.30 Haydock
  • 3.35 Musselburgh
  • 4.33 Carlisle
  • 4.55 Cork
  • 5.30 Cork
  • 8.00 Wolverhampton

I haven't got many qualifiers from my settings on the Trainer/Jockey Combo report, so I'm looking at the free race list and whilst it's not the best of the six on offer, I'm going with the one that looks the most open, the 4.33 Carlisle. It's a 10-runner, Class 4, 2m4.5f Handicap Chase on good to soft ground and here's how they'll line up...

Kayf Adventure carries top weight here, but is the highest rated on the Geegeez ratings. A fairly useful chaser for Philip Hobbs from 2015 to early 2020. Ran adequately well in a couple of hurdles races and a bumper for his new yard before reverting to fences a fortnight ago to be beaten by just 3.5 lengths here at Carlisle. Now down in class and weight plus aided by a 3lb jockey claim, he could be closer still today.

Caltex won by 22 lengths over fences back in February 2020 off a mark of 118 and was raised 9lbs for it and has struggled in his half dozen races since. His jumping is generally sound and his mark has now eased to just a pound higher than that easy win at Leicester. His yard have had 3 winners and 3 placers from 14 in the past fortnight, whilst his jockey has made the frame in 11 of 18 rides in the past month. Place claims again here.

Cooking Fat last won over fences off a mark 2lbs lower than he is now, but that was 33 months ago. He hasn't tackled a fence in almost two years and it's 28 months since he last completed a chase and has only raced three times since then. I'd want him to complete a chase again before i would think about backing him.

Do Wanna Know won two of his three starts last season, all in Novice Hurdles, falling in the one he didn't win and including winning a 2-horse match at odds of 1/25. This season's form has more letters than numbers and that's never a good sign, as his jumping has been suspect. I can't back back a horse with 3 falls and 2 pulled-up runs from his last 7 outings, even if his stablemates are running far better than him (2 wins, 3 places from 10 in the last fortnight)

Uptown Harry got off the mark in a maiden hurdle at Kelso just after Christmas 2019 and was a runner-up beaten by just 2.5 lengths here at Carlisle over course and distance at this fixture a year ago on his chasing debut, a result he repeated last time out three weeks ago. In-form Ross Chapman (won on Bafana Blue this week) jumps back into the saddle as this 7 yr old wears cheekpieces for the first time off the same mark as LTO. Looks to have a great chance here.

Kalaharry is still relatively unexposed over fences after just three efforts, but was beaten by five lengths here over shorter in mid-February and then by ten lengths at Ayr a month ago. He does drop in class here, though, potentially making this an easier contest, but based on his more extensive hurdles form, I think he needs further and on softer ground, but Class 4 is definitely his realm. He also seems to fare better in bigger fields.

Blow By Blow might well be dropping two grades here, but he still looks outclassed to me. He hasn't run in over 14 months since going down by 114 lengths in the Edinburgh National and he's certainly not the horse deemed worthy of a string of Class 1 runs in 2018/19. He has failed to complete of has come home last in seven of his last ten and is best avoided here.

Pookie Pekan seems to have lost his way somewhat. In great form during 2018 and 2019, but ended the 19/20 season tamely finishing last of 5, beaten by 31L. This season hasn't gone well either and his last four runs have seen him pulled up twice and then beaten by 25L and 20L. Others hold more appeal here, even of his yard are going quite well of late (2 wins, 3 places from 10 in the last fourteen days)

Ettila de Sivola is another struggling to repeat last season's form which saw him win at Newcastle and then only be beaten by 3 lengths and 6 lengths off 5lbs higher. he was 8th on his reappearance here at Carlisle back in October, 48L off the pace and has been pulled up and then beaten by 26 lengths in two shorter runs since. Jockey Danny McMenamin might well be averaging a strike rate over 20% of late, but even his talents won't get this one home upped in trip.

Doktor Glas, however, might see this as his best chance of one last win at the age of 11. A winner here over course and distance at this meeting three years ago, he was then off the track for 950 days and was only beaten by 5.5 lengths as a runner-up despite stepping up in weight and class. he has finished third and fourth since and not humiliated in either, so might have an outside chance here off 2lbs lower and receiving weight all round.

*

As ever, Instant Expert will highlight relevant chasing form...

...and the takeaways for me from above are Kayf Adveture's win at this class and the fact he's 13lbs lower than his last win. Caltex is 2 from 5 in this grade, whilst Pookie Pekan would have every chance if he could recapture his old form. Doktor Glaz probably stands out here, but hasn't raced much in the last three years.

In similar races here in the past, horses who like to lead have done very well, but not quite as well as those racing in mid-division., as you can see here...

My inference from reading between the lines is that prominent racers end up doing too much to try and keep close to the leaders making them susceptible from mid-division runners from behind, whilst those held-up are left with too much to do up the hill to the finish. The place strike rates of leader/mid-division runners would also appear to back up my theory (but it is just a theory!).

We have, of course, looked at how these runners have run in their past four outings and should they stick to previous tactics, then we think they'll break out like this...

...which looks good for Kayf Adventure, but not for Cooking Fat!

Summary

My task of narrowing the 10-runner field down to a workable shortlist of three or four runners is made easier today by the fact that I simply don't like/fancy many of them! I think I'd seen enough after the write-ups to narrow it down to four runners : Caltex, Doktor Glaz, Kayf Adventure and Uptown Harry.

I've split these four runners into two distinct groups, the battle for first place and who gets third. The two that I like most from a win perspective are Kayf Adventure and Uptown Harry and if I'm honest, I have very very little between them, but Kayf Adventure might get to dictate this race from the front and if that happens, then the 10/1 on offer from Hills might be huge, so it's Kayf Adventure ahead of Uptown Harry for me.

As for third place, I also didn't have much between Caltex and Doktor Glaz, but if pushed to split them, I'd just about keep them in that order with Caltex looking quite appealing as a 12/1 E/W shot with Bet365.

So, a couple of nice double-digit punts if I've read it correctly. It could be a big if, of course!

Racing Insights, 22nd February 2021

No real surprises from Saturday, as both "Potters" finished outside of the places. Potters Legend was last home as just six of nine completed the Grand National trial, where the horses that interested me, Achille, was an 11/1 runner-up beaten by just half a length, so a bit of E/W profit there.

I thought Potters Hedger was more capable and more likely to place in a race where he'd have to be better than Everglow and also hope that Bushypark didn't run away with it. In the end, Bushypark did run away with it at an SP of 8/1 and Everglow was indeed third and therefore the one to beat to make the frame. Sadly Potters Hedger was two places and 6.5 lengths further back, but certainly ran his race.

Monday heralds a new week and whilst it's generally a poor day of racing, there are still winners to be found! To help us, the Pace tab is freely available for all races, including the free races of the day, which are...

  • 1.35 Carlisle
  • 1.55 Fairyhouse
  • 2.20 Southwell
  • 2.40 Carlisle
  • 3.40 Carlisle

Heavy ground beckons at Carlisle and of the three free races we offer, the first looks the most open, so today's focus falls on the 1.35 Carlisle, an 8-runner, Class 4, handicap chase over 2m4f on this heavy ground. The winner will receive almost £4,289 and will come from the following...

Final Reminder is the only mare in the contest and makes only her second start over fences, but did win three times from ten attempts over hurdles. She probably needed the run when beaten by 36 lengths on her chasing bow at Kelso 11 weeks ago, having not been seen for 18 months and with it being over 32 months since she last won, other appeal more on form.

She's rated the lowest on our figures and her best work has come on much quicker ground over longer trips, but she has won at a higher grade and drops down in class here, whilst her yard has had 5 placers from 10 runners in the past fortnight. I don't see her making the frame, though : mid-division should be her best here.

Ryalex is the only course and distance winner here, but that was some 27 months ago and not only has he been beaten ten times since, that remains his only success in 21 attempts. He's down in class and down a furlong in trip from his last run, but he was beaten by 27 lengths here that time and has failed to even make the frame in five efforts on heavy ground.

Hard to find many positives about this one, if I'm honest, the yard is 1 from 36 over the last month and 0 from 34 here at Carlisle over the last 16 months.

Trongate is the proverbial "close, but no cigar" horse who always seems to be there or thereabouts, but doesn't win often enough, as typified by making the frame 6 times from 14 over fences (15 from 39 overall), but only winning two chases (and 3 in total). He's on a long losing run, stretching back twenty races to Autumn 2018 when he won twice in three outings.

In his defence, he has finished in the first four home nine times in his last dozen outings and was third in his last effort over fences and he has the best heavy ground form on offer here with two wins and two places from nine runs, finishing 14312 in his last five. Definite place potential here.

Scottish Accent comes here on a run of form reading 223, which in a race devoid of recent winners, makes him the form horse and therefore the one to beat. Seven of his nine starts (all at Class 4) have been on soft ground and he made the frame in one of his two heavy ground outings. He has yet to win a race, but his recent form suggests he's due one.

Trainer Rebecca Menzies is 7 from 17 (41.2% SR, A/E 3.26) with Class 3 to 5 handicap chasers over trips of 2m4f and shorter on heavy ground since the start of 2016, including 5 from 6 when sent off shorter than 6/1.

Shaughnessy finished 221 in three bumpers and although then going on to finish 343 over hurdles and 34 over fences, hasn't seemed the same horse since the turn of the year to start 2020. He was pulled up at Chepstow just over a year ago and then had 314 days off track ahead of a 26 length defeat at Newcastle.

He fell heavily at Wetherby on Boxing Day and reverted to hurdling last time out, but was almost 50 lengths off the pace. He's up in class over a sharper trip and although down 5lbs, I see him nearer the back than the front.

Central Flame is, at 13 yrs of age, the veteran of this race, but comes here off the back of his best run for five years, having been a runner-up at Newcastle just over ten weeks ago. He was beaten by less than four lengths over 2m4.5f on soft ground at this grade, for just his fourth place from 15 efforts over fences.

He's one from two here at Carlisle, has finished 2333 on heavy ground and his three career wins have all been at 2m3.5f to 2m4.5f. He's down a pound in the weights too, so he's not out of contention here in what looks a poor contest.

Mill Race King makes just his sixth start today ( also won one of two PTP races) and has yet to complete a chase contest after falling at Leicester in early December ahead of being pulled up at Wetherby on Boxing Day in the race where Shaughnessy fell.

He did run second here in a 2m3.5f hurdle at Class 3 on heavy ground, but that was almost teo years ago and only four ran and I think he's best watched here. He could place, but could also finish last or not finish at all.

Westend Theatre makes up our octet and has finished 31423 in his last five starts and was only beaten by eight lengths last time out, despite having spent over nine months off the track. Sadly, the form from that race isn't string with just one placer from nine attempts.

He's down in trip here, but up 2lbs (although his jockey now claims 3lbs) and up in class. His best form comes in the mud and he's a confirmed stayer, so this might be a little sharp for him at 2m4f, especially after more than 15 weeks since his last run. I don't see him near winning, but if things fell his way, could nick a place.

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These eight have ran 144 times between them so far, making the frame on 50 (34.4%) occasions, but only winning 12 (8.3%) of them, suggesting that the place element of Instant Expert...

...might tell us more than the win only side of things...

What the above graphics do tell us is that in handicap chases, we've only two previous heavy ground winners, two Class 4 winners, one course winner and two distance winners. Trongate has an excellent place record, whilst both Scottish Accent & Central Flame both look well placed to make the frame on past performance.

*

The pace tab is Monday's free feature, so it would be rude not to take a look...

...and the first thing we see are two big green boxes suggesting we want runners to lead or at least be prominent, as they win more than 23.5% of the time. Closer inspection of the breakdown of 15 races tells us that 38.8% of runners race prominently and win 60% of the races. Another 38.8% of runners are held up, but they've only won 6.7% of the races, as have the 5.1% of mid-division runners, leaving us with the 17.3% of horses who led taking the remaining 26.7% of races.

The figures for mid-division runners is inconclusive, so I wouldn't write them off, but I wouldn't want to be backing horses that will be held up, especially if there's any pace in the race.

And is there any pace here? Well, yes!

I'd expect Ryalex and Westend Theatre to get on with it, as they have tended to do in the past, but with career records of 1 from 21 and 1 from 22 respectively, history suggests they'll get caught. This makes them vulnerable to the likes of Scottish Accent, Shaughnessy, Trongate and Central Flame and those four bar Shaughnessy do tend to stay on and finish quite strongly.

Summary

From the racecard analysis and my write-ups, I was keenest on the likes of Scottish Accent, Trongate, Central Flame and possibly Westend Theatre. The same four caught the eye on Instant Expert with Westend looking the weaker of the four and there's a suggestion that he'll do his usual too much early on and fade away, so I'm leaving him out at this point.

So my three against the field are Scottish Accent, Trongate & Central Flame. I'd love Trongate to win this and at 6/1, he's decent value (I thought he'd be shorter) but I think that Scottish Accent might just have too much for him late on. Sadly the market agrees and have installed him as the 10/3 favourite, but there might even be a bit of juice in that price, I'd not be surprised to see him shorter than 3/1.

Central Flame would be my tentative addition for tricast/trifecta purposes here.

Before I go, a quick note about prices. I say there might be juice at 10/3 for a horse that might be 11/4 and it doesn't seem much at first glance, but it's almost as lucrative as getting 10/1 about an 8/1 shot.

Racing Insights, 16th February 2021

Tuesday's "feature of the day" is the Shortlist Report, which highlights runners proven under similar race conditions and our free "races of the day" are as follows...

  • 1.00 Carlisle
  • 1.45 Catterick
  • 3.35 Carlisle
  • 5.40 Newcastle

Carlisle are optimistic about racing going ahead, so let's tackle a heavy ground chase aka the 3.35 Carlisle...

Beat Box won a soft ground hurdle over 2m0.5f just over a year ago, but hasn't really kicked on since. Record over fences reads 353, but was beaten by 21 lengths LTO over a similar trip to today on good to soft ground at this grade. Only previous run on heavy saw him finish 3rd of 4 in a Class 4 contest over 2m0.5f where he was beaten by 39L. Not for me here.

Candy Burg is four from nine over fences and won a Class 5 2m contest on heavy ground by 14 lengths at Ffos Las earlier this month. He has been slapped with an 11lb rise for that win and whilst clearly not the horse he was in 2018/19, it is just 17 months ago that he was winning a Class 3 off a mark 15lbs higher than today. He's not guaranteed to run well in back to back contests, but must be in with a chance of making the frame at least.

Darling Alko is fairly lightly raced after 4 bumpers, 3 hurdles and 3 chases and has finished 123 over fences. His win was over 2m0.5f on soft ground at Ludlow off a mark just 5lbs lower than today and he's had the benefit of a pipe-opener in an A/W jumpers bumper recently, finishing fourth at Lingfield and beaten by just 7.5 lengths after an absence of over 10 months. Should come on for the run and could well make the frame at a decent price.

Demopolis is 1 from 1 over fences after landing a Class 4 soft ground contest by four lengths over two miles at Ludlow almost a year ago. He has since finished 1421 over hurdles and comes here in great nick following a heavy ground success last time out. He's rated just 5lbs higher over fences than that last hurdles win (although his hurdles mark will also rise next time) and has the benefit of in-form Richard Johnson in the saddle.

Kalaharry had a decent 2020 even if he didn't win often enough finishing 12326 with the penultimate of those races being his chase debut. He was second of three that day just two lengths behind an odds on favourite with the other runner some 26 lengths further back. You don't learn much from three-runner contests, but he got some Class 4 and heavy ground experience and staying 2m7.5f vouched for his stamina. He looked like he needed the run when well beaten last time out, but that was his comeback after 9 months off, so more is expected here, although I'm not expecting much better than mid-field.

Miss Amelia is the only mare in the race and this daughter of Midnight Legend has already won three times over fences, including one on heavy ground. Her last four results over fences read 1312 and the first of those runs was the heavy ground win, when she scored at this grade over 2m1.5f at Bangor, finishing 17 lengths clear of the field some 14 months ago. She's up in class today but should still give a decent account of herself, but I doubt that will be enough here.

Pistol Park was a useful chaser from April 2016 to April 2018, but three long lay-offs and six indifferent efforts since have somewhat taken the shine off his past exploits. He was last of three beaten by 33 lengths six starts ago and was then pulled up in each of his next two. He returned from a 256 day break to get within 8 lengths of the winner at Ayr back in October, but has been beaten by 58 and 36 lengths in two runs since. His best days are definitely behind him and a drop in class won't enough to get him involved here.

Pookie Pekan is 3 from 16 over fences, but it has been a while since we've seen a decent run from him. He won nicely at this grade in November 2019 and he was expected to move on from there, but struggled in four runs upped in trip. He was dropped right back down to 2m0.5f LTO, but was still beaten by some 25 lengths at Haydock on heavy ground 24 days ago and although he's down in class here, others look better placed.

Skipping On might well be 12 yrs old now, but was consistently decent in 2020 finishing 4232321 (2322 on heavy). He struggled last time out when pulled up at Ayr in a Class 4 contest over 2m5.5f on heavy ground and it is hoped that the return to a shorter trip gets him going again. He has won over fences here at Carlisle in the past on heavy ground and if running like he did in 2020 would have a great chance. The worry, I suppose, is that the LTO run is start of a demise.

Well Above Par has been significantly below par of late, if truth be told, since winning at Kelso six starts ago. Subsequently beaten by 18 then 31 lengths, he was pulled up before racing twice more, going down by 36 and 28 lengths. He has two chase victories to his name including one at a higher grade on heavy ground, but I'd be massively surprised if he was anywhere near in this one. I'd be less surprised if he finished last.

Zuckerberg might or might not make up the field here. I don't actually expect him to run as he fulfilled an engagement at Warwick this afternoon where he finished 14th of 18 over hurdles, more than 50 lengths off the pace. That didn't surprise me at all to be honest, as he's shown very little since coming to the UK and I expected him to struggle here under top weight. Whether he runs here or not is largely irrelevant for our purposes, he's not winning this race!

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Excluding Zuckerberg, who I don't expect to line up, this field have clocked up some miles in a combined 189 races yielding 57 places (30%) including 36 wins (19%). That win strike rate is decent enough and they have also made the frame in 19 (38%) of 50 heavy ground contests, winning 9 (18%) of them. Heavy ground form is very important, as it's likely to be bottomless here. Thankfully, we have Instant Expert to show us who the mudlarks might be...

I've ordered the above purely on heavy ground wins, as I'm more interested in those with past form in the mud and on the basis of that graphic, I'd be expecting the winner to come from the first five listed. The rise in weight is a concern for Candy Berg and Demopolis although the latter is probably this high over hurdles anyway.

Our projected pace map for this race is as follows...

...and I think that in these conditions, I'd want to be sat in mid-division conserving some energy for the closing stages. Well Above Par is likely to do too much too soon, as is often the case and I didn't really like the chances of the three at the top of the graphic before I even saw the pace map, so that seals that for me.

Summary

Based on what I've read on the racecard, what I've written about each, the Instant Expert and also the pace map, the ones I'm still interested in are Candy Burg, Darling Alko, Demopolis and Skipping On.

I think that on their day, any of the four could win, but I prefer the latter pair to the former pair. I've concerns about the weight for Candy Burg and Darling Alko just doesn't win often enough. I've got them ranked as being pretty much equal to each other, but at 16/1 opposed to 3/1, Darling Alko makes for a much better E/W punt.

As for the winner, Demopolis looks the safer bet. There's no guarantees that 12 yr olds can bounce back from a poor run, because if I thought Skipping On could do that, then 15/2 would be a cracking price. What I feel/fear might happen is that he gives a cracking account of himself and the 5/2 fav Demopolis just beats him.

 

 

Carlisle National Hunt Pace Bias

When discussing the word pace our primary focus is the initial pace in a race and the position horses take up early on, writes Dave Renham.

The running style of the horses is another way some pundits describe it. geegeez.co.uk includes a pace section (the Pace Analyser) where you may research this angle to your heart’s content.

Pace data on the site is split into four run styles – Led (4), Prominent (3), Mid Division (2) and Held Up (1). The number in brackets is the pace score that is assigned to each section.

For this article I am again concentrating on data going back to 2009 with races of eight or more runners. My main focus when looking at pace will be handicap races, but for National Hunt racing I do also look at some non-handicap data. CARLISLE is the course under scrutiny today.

The course is a little over a mile and a half in circumference and is considered to be a stiff, galloping track. The hurdle course is shown below:

 

As you can see there are three flights in both the back straight and the home straight.

The chase course has nine fences of which two are open-ditches.

The fences are considered to be fairly easy at Carlisle.

 

Carlisle Handicap Hurdle Pace Bias

They run over three main distances in hurdles races at Carlisle namely 2m 1f, 2m 4f, and and 3m 1f.

N.B. it should be noted that on Geegeez the 3m 1f trip comes under the 3m 2f (26 furlongs) bracket for research.

 

2 miles 1 furlong – here is the handicap hurdle breakdown (8+ runners):

 

There is a definite edge toward runners that race up with or close to the pace. Below shows a graphical comparison of the A/E values, which helps illustrate the pace bias visually.

 

1 - Held Up / 2 - Midfield / 3 - Prominent / 4 - Led

 

Interestingly, of the 12 front-running winners, 11 had raced prominently or had led on their most recent start.

In non-handicaps, however, the picture is less clear cut as we can see:

 

Front runners do well again while hold up horses look at a severe disadvantage. However, horses that have raced midfield fared surprisingly well. This gives us a slightly confusing picture so it seems best to concentrate only on handicap races therefore from a pace perspective over this 2m 1f trip.

 

2 miles 4 furlongs – in the past few years they have raced half a furlong either side of 2m 4f (so 2m 3 ½f and 2m 4½f) so I have lumped these similar trips together. Let’s examine the handicap hurdle breakdown (8+ runners):

 

A fairly level playing field here with no edge to any particular running style. Front runners though seem to have under-performed and it actually looks a disadvantage to lead early in such races.

Onto the non-handicap data:

 

In non-handicaps a pattern seems to emerge if we focus on the place percentages - they seem to suggest that in reality horses that race close to or up with the pace have had the advantage. The IV figures also suggest this, although the A/E values for hold up horses offers us conflicting evidence: they have won infrequently but occasionally popped up at a big price.

 

3 miles 1 furlong – at Carlisle there have been races of 3 miles ½ furlong up to 3 miles 1½ furlongs. On the Geegeez site you need to combine the 3 miles and 3 miles 2 furlong data to get all the relevant qualifying races. A look at the handicap data:

We see that hold up horses have the best record here – they have the best strike rate, too, which is rare, and by far the best A/E figure.

Below is a graphical representation comparing the A/E values for all pace scores across all distances:

 

1 - Held Up / 2 - Midfield / 3 - Prominent / 4 - Led

 

In general, we can see that in handicap hurdle races at Carlisle, as the distance increases the front running bias at the shortest distance (2m 1f) becomes a hold up bias at the longest distance (3m 1f).

The figures for hold up horses (1 / blue bar), prominent racers (3 / grey bar) and leaders/front runners (4 / yellow bar) all correlate in terms of the switching of the pace bias as the distance increases; horses that race mid division (2 / orange bar) don’t quite fit the same pattern but that is largely due to a slightly skewed performance (in my opinion) at 2m4f.

Non-handicap races over this extended 3 mile trip are rare – just nine in total going back to 2009 and only three of those had eight or more runners. Hence the data set is far too small to analyse!

 

Carlisle Handicap Chase Pace Bias

Over the bigger obstacles at Carlisle they race at 2m, 2m 4f, 2m 5f, 3m and 3m 2f. I will lump the 2m 4f and 2m 5f data together to give a bigger data set. I am also going to look exclusively at handicap data as there are very few non-handicap races at any distance where eight or more runners have taken part.

 

2 miles – 27 qualifying two mile handicap chases, so a relatively small sample:

 

Despite the smallish sample we can be fairly confident that front runners have a strong edge here. The closer you race to the pace the better and prominent racers have a decent record too. Hold up horses have struggled, shown by the poor strike rate and very low A/E and IV figures.

 

2 miles 4 furlongs to 2 miles 5 furlongs – there have been a decent number of handicap chases with eight or more runners combining these distances (55 races). Here are the stats:

 

Front runners enjoy a clear advantage over this distance, too, with figures that are very similar to the two mile data set. Horses that race midfield or at the back early again struggle, although hold up horses perform marginally better than they did at the minimum distance.

It seems that the pace bias may accentuate as the ground softens. On soft or heavy going, front runners have won over 25% of the races with an A/E value of 1.94 (IV 2.48). On good to soft or faster, this drops to under 17%.

 

3 miles – they generally race at 3 miles ½ furlong. Here are the handicap chase data (8 + runners):

 

For the third distance in a row we can see a strong front running bias. Hold up horses actually perform around par which is a clear improvement when compared with the two shorter trips.

 

3 miles 2 furlongs – the final distance to examine for handicap chases with 8 or more runners:

Again front runners have a good record, as do prominent racers. Hold up horses perform extremely poorly which surprised me considering the data from three-mile races.

Let us now look at all the handicap chase pace data graphically in terms of A/E values.

 

1 - Held Up / 2 - Midfield / 3 - Prominent / 4 - Led

 

This graph once again compares each distance pictorially, and the yellow bar (leaders) is clearly best overall, and at each individual race distance. At three of the four distances the grey bar (prominent racers) is clear second best.

Carlisle, in terms of handicap chases, seems to have a reasonably strong pace bias across the board – there is significant value in handicap chases at Carlisle in front runners and to a lesser extent prominent racers.

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Before closing, I want to share one more graph with you. This looks at the performance of prominent runners and leaders combined in terms of field size in handicap chases across all distances. I have noticed before that quite often a pace bias gets stronger as the number of runners increase. That again seems the case here. I have plotted both A/E and IV figures to illustrate this:

 

 

As can be seen there is a steady rise in performance from smaller fields (8 to 9 runners) through to bigger fields (12+ runners).

 

Carlisle National Hunt Handicap Pace Bias Summary

To conclude, handicap chases offer the pace punter the biggest edge at Carlisle. In hurdle races the picture is less cut and dried, although there is definitely a front running bias in handicap hurdles at the shortest range, while over 3m 1f hold up horses fare best in the handicap sphere.