Another decent afternoon for us as Sandrine / Hello You / Oscula did indeed finish in that order giving us a 9/4 winner. I also hoped that Desert Dreamer might gatecrash that trio and had an E/W tickle on her at 12/1 and gatecrash she did, finishing as runner-up as my "favoured four" were the first four home...
And now to Saturday's racing for my last piece of the week. Feature of the day is the excellent Trainer/Jockey Combo report, which brings together the form of trainers and jockeys into a single composite report and has produced excellent results for users. Quite simply, some trainers turn to specific riders when they have one ‘ready to win’. This report quickly identifies the most profitable combinations.
In addition to that informative report, we also have the following free races of the day for you to consider...
- 1.00 Navan
- 2.30 Limerick
- 3.25 Chester
- 4.05 York
- 5.05 Navan
- 5.40 Chester
I have fairly stringent settings/requirements for my Trainer/Jockey Combo report, which means I've actually no qualifiers at all for Saturday but all is not lost, because the free list has once again given us another Class 1 race to look at. This time, we're back in the North West on the Roodee for the 3.25 Chester : it's a 9-runner Listed race known as the City Plate Stakes, which is a 7f affair for horses aged 3 or over. We're expecting soft ground that will be better in places (and it has been sunny & dry up in the NW today) and the top prize of £28,355 will go to one of...
All bar Azano, Khaadem and Sir Maximilian have won at least one of their last five outings, although the former has been runner-up in his last two and the latter has made the frame in his last three, even at the age of 12! He is, however, up three classes today, whilst Documenting, Matthew Flinders, Oo De Lally and Rhoscolyn all raced at Class 2 last time out.
Khaadem and Matthew Flinders are the only two not to have won over 7f, whilst Oh This Is Us and Sir Maximilian have actually done so on this track. Safe Voyage last raced six weeks ago and he's the one longest rested of this field, whilst four of them (Oh This Is Us, Khaadem, Sir Maximilian and Os De Lally) all raced a fortnight ago.
We've a fair age spread here with 2 x 3yo, 1 x 4yo, 2 x 5yo, 3 x 8yo and the 12 yr old Sir Maximilian. The three year olds have a useful 8lbs weight allownace, whilst Oh This Is Us carries an extra 5lbs over the standard allotted 9st5lbs for the race, making Safe Voyage best off at the weights.
Trainer/jockey-wise, Safe Voyage & Oo De Lally are from in-form yards and it's Oh This Is Us & Oo De Lally for trainer/course form. Rhoscolyn's jockey is riding well, but those aboard Matthew Flinders & Sir Maximilian seem to be struggling for form. Oo De Lally will be ridden by Hayley Turner and she tends to go well here.
Ratings-wise, Safe Voyage and Oh This Is Us are only 2lbs apart according to the BHA figures, whilst the SR numbers show Azano and Safe Voyage separated by the same amount and now to the runners themselves...
Oh This Is Us has a win and a runner-up finish from two C&D efforts, but they were back in 2018/19. Since then he's really blossomed into a decent horse who has won a Listed race and a Gr3 in his last four outings. He struggled on the A/W at Newcastle LTO over a inadequate trip, but back on turf will fare better. The added weight is a concern, though.
Azano hasn't won any of his last nine races since landing a Class 4 Novice event at Yarmouth on good to soft in October 2018 on his second career start. He followed that up with a runner-up finish in a Gr3 also on good to soft, but hadn't done much else of note until a soft ground runner-up finish two starts ago (C2) and then second again at York in a Listed race last month. I don't think he's good enough to land this, but he likes soft/good to soft ground.
Documenting was decent enough in late 2019 to late 2020, finishing 122911713, but hasn't shown similar form this year with runs of 4th of 9, 5th of 10 and then 22nd of 28, beaten by 18 lengths last time out. His best form comes on the A/W and whilst he's not a bad Class 2 runner, he's really a C3 animal and looks like being outclassed here.
Khaadem won the 27-runner Stewards Cup in August 2019 and looked like a Class 1 horse that day. Sadly he's 0 from 7 since and decent runs have been few and far between, although he was only beaten by 1.5 lengths in last year's Diamond Jubilee Stakes and by 2.25 lengths in a Listed race last month. he has no decent form on ground "worse" than good and all 14 career starts have been over a furlong shorter than today. Too many negatives there for me.
Matthew Flinders also has no form on slower than Good ground and has also never raced over 7f with all nine starts being at 1m to 1m2.5f and this might well be a bit sharp for him. In his defence, he ran well enough last season in handicap company, but was well beaten in the Royal Hunt Cup last time out, doing too much early doors.
Safe Voyage should really be the one to beat here, but hasn't lived up to his 2019 or 2020 form just yet this year. He won 2 x Gr2, 1 x Gr3 and two Listed races in those two seasons, but came back from 245 days off to run last of 11 in the Gr1 Lockinge in mid-May and was 8th of 9 in the Gr3 John of Gaunt a fortnight later. He's had six weeks to get over those runs and really need to rediscover his form. To help him, the going/trip/jockey and track direction are all positive, but this won't be a walk in the park.
Sir Maximilian is game, make no mistake, but looks out of his depth here and at 12 yrs old, won't get any better. Winless in 12 outings since a Class 3 handicap win here over course and distance ten months ago, he doesn't scream "winner" at me. he is running well, though and has made the frame in his last three runs, all here at Chester (where he loves it!) including twice in two days last month over 7.5f and then over 5f. All of that points to another bold effort, but they were all Class 4 runs and this is so much tougher.
Oo De Lally looks like a progressive 3yr old, who'll no doubt be helped by the extra 8lbs weight allowance which makes him one of the better off at the weights. Fair to say, however, that his best form is on the A/W, but was a runner-up over this trip in soft ground two starts ago. He steps up in class today, but if transferring his slow ground A/W form to this going, he'd be in with a shout especially with his 011121 form over today's trip.
Rhoscolyn, like Oo De Lally, is also an in-form progressive 3 yr old receiving 8lbs weight allowance. This only puts him 2lbs worse off with the race's class act Safe Voyage. He moved to David O'Meara's yard this season having 1 win and 0 places from 7 for Charles Hill. Since then he has finished 72111, going three from three on soft/good to soft and landing back to back Class 2 handicaps. Of course, this is tougher, but he's thriving right now and has the talented Marco Ghiani on board.
Instant Expert takes all runners career outings and then discards the runs that aren't relevant to conditions expected for this race. IE then colour codes (green is good, red not good!) their stats at going, class, course, distance and field size and puts them all in one handy chart so you can see who might be best suited for this task, as follows...
And this explains why Safe Voyage is probably the one to beat here. Rhoscolyn, however, should relish the underfoot conditions, Oh This Is Us has four Class 1 wins and 5 wins over 7f, whilst Rhoscolyn also has a very healthy record at the trip.
Course form is always handy to have here at Chester with the way you're always turning left making life difficult for many runners and they do tend to say that in races of a mile or shorter, you really want to be drawn low. We hear this about lots of tracks, but in fairness, getting a low draw here is very useful indeed...
Stalls 1 to 3 have the edge and if you look at the blue line, there's a gradual decrease from 3 downwards. I think 4 & 5's figures suffer from the success of 1 to 3, but if you could hand-pick your stall, that that low draw would be the one to go for, which is good news for Oh This Is Us, Documenting and Rhoscolyn. The draw is so important because on a constantly turning track like this, the inside stalls are the shortest route from start to finish, BUT if you're drawn low, you still need to try and get out quickly, otherwise you've a chance of being cut across by faster starters from wider draws.
Our pace stats tell us that leading is the best policy here at Chester. Mid-division runners do OK and make the frame more than once every three attempts, but with 13 winners and 11 placers from 40 runners, leaders win the contest hands down.
So, from those graphics above, a low drawn leader must be a shoo-in?
Not quite, but over 47% is a brilliant strike rate and actually comes from 8 winners and 6 placers off 17 runners, so leading from a low draw puts you in the frame in 82.4% of similar races and id-drawn leaders made the frame 8 times from 14.
Thanks to Geegeez logging the running styles of every runner in every UK, we can make a reasonable assertion/assumption as to how these nine will break out and as we already know the draw, we can superimpose our horses onto that heatmap as follows...
This would suggest that confirmed front-runner and softer ground-loving Azano will set the pace, chased by Rhoscolyn and Safe Voyage at close quarters. Those drawn in stalls 1 and 2 probably won't make best use of the plum draw, whilst aside from Oo De Lally in the car park, there's precious little pace elsewhere.
I think that Azano, Rhoscolyn and Safe Voyage are going to set the pace and given the lack of pace elsewhere, they could fairly quickly put this race to bed between them. I don't think Azano is good enough to win this, but front-running tactics are his best hope and at 11/1, he's worth an E/W bet.
So, what of Safe Voyage and Rhoscolyn? Well, the former should be the one to beat here, but he has seemed out of sorts this season, so you're effectively backing him at 11/4 to regain form and that's not value in my book. That said, Rhoscolyn isn't much better priced at 10/3, but I think I prefer him over the favourite. Both should beat Azano, but I do hope the pace-setter hangs on for the place.