Wednesday's focus was on the two Kevin Ryan runners at Pontefract, where I felt Bergerac was well worth backing at 4/1 and Tiny Danser was capable of making the frame but might just fall short. As it was, Bergerac was an easy 6-lengths winner at 5/4 and the race collapsed somewhat, allowing Tiny Danser to take advantage and finish as runner-up.
I was happy to have got on the winner, but was left a little annoyed at missing a near-17/1 forecast.
Thursday's free feature is full access to the intuitive Instant Expert feature and that's offered to all readers for all races, including our races of the day, which are...
- 3.35 Lingfield
- 5.00 Redcar
- 5.20 Southwell
- 6.35 Punchestown
- 7.15 Chelmsford
And I think we'll take a look at the last of those, the 7.15 Chelmsford, which on paper at least, looks the best of the free UK races. It's a 7-runner, Class 2, 4yo+ A/W handicap over 1m2f on Polytrack worth a cool £10,260 to one of the following...
There might only be seven runners here, but my initial thoughts are that at least three or four of them of them are in with a good chance and I wouldn't rule any of them out based purely on looking at the card. I've concerns about Pivoine's 232 day absence from a run of form that doesn't look inspiring, but let's come to that in turn.
Dawaam is three from four on the A/W so far, including a class, course and distance win here last time out. He beat the 102-rated What's The Story by three quarters of a length that day and the latter has since been a runner-up again, but in a Listed contest at Doncaster a month ago. A repeat of that LTO effort would surely make Dawaam a leading contender here, but that's slightly tempered by a 4lb weight rise and the fact that he hasn't raced for 175 days, but both yard and jockey do well here normally.
Tritonic is also technically coming back from a long break since finishing 4th of 17 over 1m4f at Newmarket back in early October, but this 4 yr old has kept fit with three efforts over hurdles since then, winning at Class 3 and then a Grade 2 contest, both over two miles prior to a fifth place finish in the JCB Triumph hurdle at Cheltenham last month. Like Dawaam above, Tritonic has to be respected here, but the caveat with this one is that this will be his all-weather debut and his two Flat wins have been over shorter trips than today.
Pivoine is the one I was most wary of before getting stuck in to the race properly, as he didn't have a good season last time around and he hasn't raced since early September. That said, he has won 2 of 6 A/W starts and won the 2019 John Smiths Cup at York off 8lbs higher. Theoretically, this race is well within him, but my initial fears have dissuaded me.
Rhythmic Intent is another making an A/W debut and comes here with a 3 from 17 record on the Flat, which isn't totally inspiring. All his wins have been at Class 3 or lower and at longer trips than today, sparking a fear that they'll be too good and too sharp for him here. In the right race, he's certainly be one to consider (he's 3 from 4 at 1m2.5f to 1m5.5f at Class 3/4 on the Flat), but I don't think this is the one for him, up 2lbs for an A/W debut with no run in 173 days.
Satono Japan is another coming off a fairly lengthy break and although this 4 yr old steps down from Listed class to run here, he was soundly (8.5 lengths) beaten on Lingfield's polytrack. That was 166 days ago and his only other two outings were a narrow win and a three lengths third in a pair of Class 5 Novice contests. He's hardly been thrown in with a mark of 95 for his handicap debut and as the form from his last novice race has been poor from runners racing off marks of 72 to 89, I think he's going to struggle here.
Arij has certainly been kept busy through the winter with eight runs on the A/W since his last turf run back in August of last year. He has made the frame in 6 of those 8 runs, winning twice. He won here over course and distance (Class 4) off a mark of 73 in early December and was also a winner over slightly shorter at Wolverhampton (also Class 4) off 86, when clear by almost 4.5 lengths 40 days ago. He's up another 8lbs and two classes here and whilst he has been running consistently well, it's a big ask here. That said, he does get a little bit of weight from most of the field and Team Crisford have a good record when sending just one runner to a meeting.
Habit Rouge makes up the field, but shouldn't be here just to make up the numbers. Receiving 4 to 9lbs from tightly bunched field, he's well weighted and comes here in good nick. He was beaten by 4 lengths over a mile at Newcastle after being eased down once the race was lost upon his return from a three month break in February and has ran here at Chelmsford twice since at this class, course and distance, winning by a neck off a mark of 88 before going down by 4.5 lengths off 90. He goes off 90 again, which makes this tough, but his yard do well here and he is 3 from 6 on the A/W. He could well threaten the places, but we'd need the run from two starts ago rather than last time out.
For a quick overview of all relevant past form, Thursday's free feature, Instant Expert, is your friend...
...and highlights Dawaam's apparent suitability for the task (it doesn't, of course, account for any lay-off) and also shows Habit Rouge in a good light. We'll get less data when we look solely at A/W handicap form, but it's important to assess how the field have performed under today's conditions...
...where we get a similar, if trimmed down picture. We seen that Dawaam and Habit Rouge still feature strongly, but both are racing off higher marks than they last won off (+4lbs and +2lbs respectively), but both Pivoine and Arij are even worse off.
There's not actually a massive draw bias here today...
...although there has historically been an advantage in the far reaches of the stalls ie boxes 1 and 7, which is more good news for Dawaam and Tritonic, but Chelmsford races are more often decided by race tactics/pace. So much so, that somebody higher up the Geegeez chain of command has dubbed it the Chelmsford Speedway! Front runners traditionally do well here, as seen by the following data...
...and when we ally draw stats with the pace stats, we learn that the best way to attack such a contest is to lead from a high draw...
Low drawn-horses also do well when leading, but fare even better from mid-division. The danger zone is getting caught in no-man's land from a high draw and ending up being pushed wide on the turn.
We said that Dawaam and Tritonic had the "plum" draws in 1 and 7, so if Dawaam is a mid-div horse or a leader, he's in with a great chance, as would Tritonic be if he's a front runner. Thankfully, we know how these have raced in the past and we can overlay their running styles onto that heat map and arranged in stall order, here's how we think the race might unfold...
Dawaam is indeed ideally placed for his draw and must have a real opportunity from that position. Tritonic would need to step forward, whilst the consistent Arij looked really well suited if handling the step up in class.
Three horses leap out at me here for different reasons, so let's go alphabetically with them...
Arij is in great form, has been very busy and consistent over the winter, so he's race ready and has a great pace/draw make-up. On the down side, he's on a career high mark and steps up in class, notwithstanding the fact that he's till only 4 yrs old and could well have improvement to come.
Dawaam is also well suited by the pace/draw stats, has the plum draw in stall 1, he showed up really well on Instant Expert but he's up in weight and hasn't raced for almost six months and might need to blow some cobwebs away.
Tritonic is almost equally well drawn at the other end of the stalls in box 7, but hasn't previously raced at the pace you'd want at Chelmsford. Having raced really well over hurdles during the winter, he's fit and won't want for stamina, but I am concerned at this lack of previous all-weather experience.
Those are definitely the ones I'd want to be choosing rom here and you can make a strong case for/against all three and I suspect that when I look at the market in a moment, there's be some agreement (unless I've read it wrong!). So who do I want to be with more than the other two? On evidence of past form and the graphics thrown up by the Geegeez toolbox, I'm going to have to say Dawaam, even if it means taking his fitness for granted. He's had a wind op whilst off track and loves the A/W.
As for Arif and Tritonic, I think I've got them in that order, just! There probably won't be much between them, but Arif is a progressive sort on the A/W and past experience might just see him home.
Market-watch... only Hills are open at 5.15pm and they've got Dawaam as the 3/1 favourite which is probably fair and the fact that Arif and Tritonic are both 7/2 would appear to back up my assessment of the race. With just two places available, it's hard to make a case for an E/W bet here, but the 9/1 about Habit Rouge might be attractive.