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.
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.