The weather continues to claim fixtures on a regular basis and Sandown’s card on Saturday will remain in some sort of doubt until a morning inspection. Prospects seem more encouraging at Musselburgh so we’ll head there for Saturday’s preview on one of their live ITV races.
The Edinburgh National at 4.15pm looks a really interesting contest. Testing ground and a marathon trip of 4m1f will make it a gruelling test and hopefully we can rule a fair few out based on conditions alone.
As usual we’ll go through the race using a number of tools available through a Geegeez Gold subscription.
Generally speaking the longer the distance, the less there is a hereditary front running pace bias in racing so let’s see if there is any pace bias over this 33f trip.
There is very limited data for this distance so it seems best to open up a few of the parameters here, especially the distance. Looking at chases that have taken place at Musselburgh over distances of 3m+ there does seem to still be a pace bias. It’s not with front runners though but with those that tend to race prominently.
Prominent racers have won 17.09% of qualifying races they have contested which is more than mid division and held up have provided combined. Those that race prominently have a better win percentage, place percentage, win PL, each way PL and IV than any other run style.
Front runners produce better results than mid division and held up so there is clearly an advantage in being closer to the pace than patiently ridden. Win percentage, place percentage and IV are very similar between mid division and held up but in terms of market expectancy mid division massively outperforms held up with win PL and place PL far worse for those held up compared to mid division.
How about the pace setup for this particular race?
We’re probably not going to see a hectic gallop and a steady early gallop should amplify the advantage of those that race prominently. It could also help those with slightly questionable stamina.
Little Bruce could find himself with an uncontested lead with The Ferry Master, Mighty Thunder, Le Breuil and Billy Bronco likely to race in the ‘perfect’ position for this course. That quartet could be worth marking up in our estimations.
Dino Boy and Saint Xavier are amongst the more fancied runners that have been patiently ridden more often than not on recent starts and that pair will do very well to win from the rear if that’s how they are ridden here once again. Dino Boy was prominently ridden last time though when winning so we may well see a repeat of those tactics here.
The place data with some loose parameters should give us a fair idea of which runners are more likely to give their running than others in this contest.
It’s understandable that most horses should come out with a decent place record with the above filters and any ‘red’ results should be fairly concerning, especially if the data sample is more than a couple of races.
Perhaps the main standouts from a positive perspective here are The Ferry Master who has hit the frame for all filtered races as well as Dino Boy and Bob Mahler who display very solid profiles.
Saint Xavier looks a huge negative considering his odds, he has failed to place in all races in this going or in this field size and he also has a poor record in class 2 or class 3 races. Stay Humble also has some worrying stats, including four failures to place in soft ground. He does have a 100% record of placing at Musselburgh at least.
There are no real negatives over this extreme distance, although it’s worth noting that half the field haven’t gone anywhere near this far before so there are certainly some stamina question marks in the field.
Keeping those loose parameters but looking at win records, we obviously see a lot more with red profiles now.
The profile of The Ferry Master now looks a lot less attractive from a win perspective but Dino Boy remains a positive overall. Bob Mahler has a 100% win record at Musselburgh that’s only from one run.
Classic Escape and Billy Bronco look worth taking on from those nearer the head of the betting based on the bare statistics whilst further down the odds list Little Bruce is worth closer inspection solely because he has a decent strike rate at staying trips.
Stamina will be key here and we seem to have two distinct groups of runners, those proven over staying trips and those who are yet to test their stamina over anywhere near this far. First let’s look at those with the proven stamina as they are more likely to throw up a solid each way bet.
Runners With Marathon Experience
Little Bruce was previously mentioned as a runner worth examining more closely because of two wins from five over extended trips. His latest run came in a 2m NHF flat race at Newcastle so a poor run there is of no concern over this much different test. He was beaten over 40 lengths on his two previous runs though without too many excuses and he was beaten the best part of 20 lengths in this last year when finishing 4th. This has presumably been the target once again but he’s only 2lbs lower than last year and doesn’t look in the right form to win this.
Last year’s winner, Bob Mahler, is arguably the most ‘proven’ runner here. He won this race last year in similar conditions and followed up with a good 3rd in the Kim Muir. He’s been in no sort of form this season though, pulled up in all three runs. A wind op hasn’t improved him and he’s another you couldn’t back with any confidence at the minute., for all he's interesting on last year's form.
Dino Boy was marked as a runner that looked interesting based on Instant Expert. Relatively lightly raced for an 8yo, he was pulled up on seasonal debut on his first start for Iain Jardine but put that run behind him on his first start beyond 3m2f last time when winning over an extended 4m, proving his stamina for this contest in the process. He has a leading chance on that form but it was noted by the stewards that the trainer declared the horse stripped fitter for his seasonal debut but also improved for returning to a left handed track. Musselburgh is of course a right handed track and he was also a beaten favourite a year ago at Wincanton (also right handed) so backers beware.
Le Breuil is the favourite here and a runner who has tested himself over extreme trips on a few occasions. He won almost two years ago over 1.5f shy of this trip at the Cheltenham Festival but has been fairly expensive to follow since (beaten favourite on three of his last four starts). He found things happening too quickly at last year’s Festival over 3m2f but ran creditably over the same distance on his first two starts this season. His best two runs since his last win have both come over 3m5f at Warwick and it’s likely that the extra trip has been the key there. That especially seems to be the case as he’s been outpaced even at those trips before staying on again and this step back up in trip looks a very smart move. Connections also reach for the cheekpieces here and he didn’t run brilliantly on his previous run with them on, for all it was a completely different test, so he’s a slightly risky favourite with that in mind for all he could be a class above here and ticks lots of boxes.
Classic Escape and Billy Bronco have both tried this sort of trip before without success. Both have placed though. The former has a fairly consistent profile and he ran with credit last time behind Dino Boy when 2nd. That pretty much proved his stamina but he was beaten 15 lengths that day so it can’t really be argued that he ran brilliantly. Billy Bronco has finished 2nd over 3m6f but he’s been pulled up on his last two runs at that kind of distance and didn’t seem to stay 4m2f in the Midlands National a few years ago so looks a risky proposition.
Runners With Stamina To Prove
The Ferry Master had a solid place profile for this according to Instant Expert but looked less impressive from a win perspective. He’s won his last two starts over trips just shy of 3m and is yet to try anything like this kind of distance. His sire was a 1m winner on the flat and the furthest any of his offspring have won over is 3m1f so his stamina is certainly questionable. He is two from two in cheekpieces though and would have an excellent chance if he stays.
Saint Xavier had some serious question marks across the board according to Instant Expert so let’s take a closer look at his chances. He’s certainly not the most consistent and has been very up and down for both Paul Nicholls and Richard Hobson on these shores. He’s been gradually finding his feet this season though for Hobson and put in his best performance for quite some time last time out at Kempton over 3m in a first time visor. This will be a very different test though, going up in trip by a mile and he now tries first time blinkers. He is related to Irish Grand National winner Burrows Saint but his inconsistency is a worry as much as anything else.
The Delray Munky refused at the last on her most recent run when a remote 2nd but had won her previous race comfortably. She’s an extended 3m winner on heavy but she’s not always the strongest finisher and looks another suspect stayer in this. His trainer does have an IV of 1.65 in marathon handicaps though so it’s perhaps taking notice when one runs over this sort of trip for the first time. Her sire has had five runners at this distance and none have placed but three of them fell or were brought down and one of the two finishers was a 66/1 chance so it’s difficult to draw too many conclusions. Her sire has had a winner at 3m6f in the past.
Fortified Bay tried an extended 3m4f last time out at Haydock in very deep ground and although he finished 2nd, he was beaten 45 lengths. He’s been given 77 days to get over that run which seems a wise move. His trainer has an IV of 1.36 with handicap runners returning from a 60+ day break so that too is reassuring. His sire seems to get more than his fair share of 2m winners and hasn’t had any winners at further than 3m so a big stamina question mark over this one.
Stay Humble was 2nd on his only previous run here but that was over just 2m4f last time out. He’s run okay on his two tries over distances further than 3m though and he does have some potential off this sort of mark at that kind of trip at the very least. He is a prominent racer which is a bonus here but the big questions is his stamina. His sire has had a couple of 3m1f winners but he’s 0 from 11 at 3m4f+ according to the Profiler. The horse’s better runs have also come on slightly better ground.
Mighty Thunder completes the field at big odds. He’s run here four times over hurdles and those efforts include and win and a 2nd at 13/2 and 22/1 respectively. He won on his penultimate start when making all and similar tactics wouldn’t be a huge disadvantage here but he was beaten a very long way last time out at Kelso. Whether or not he’s well enough handicapped to win this, will stay the trip or in better form this time around are all question marks and that’s at least one too many but if he is back to form and does stay he’ll outrun his odds.
None of those without proven stamina look to be crying out for the step up in trip and many have form, or well being, question marks too. The Ferry Master would be very interesting over shorter but is short enough with such a stamina doubt. If they don’t go a very strong gallop and he is well placed off that gallop he might get away with it and would be ideally positioned and he would be one to potentially consider in running depending on how strong the early pace is.
Several of those with proven stamina or near proven stamina have to prove their well being so the two most reliable selections could end up being Le Breuil and Dino Boy. If there wasn’t the question mark over Dino Boy being as good right handed as he is left handed he would be the first choice here but he’s no guarantee to run as well around this course. Le Breuil has been expensive to follow and does have to prove himself in the cheekpieces but those cheekpieces could be the making of him. He does come with risks attached but that can be said about every single runner in this field and on the balance of things he looks the most likely to win this, for all he’s not the greatest value play you’ll ever see on a Saturday.