Last piece of the week from me, and Saturday's 'feature of the day' is the Trainer/Jockey combo report and our free 'races of the day' are...
- 1.50 Listowel
- 2.30 Doncaster
- 2.35 Epsom
- 3.20 Tramore
- 4.00 Musselburgh
- 5.00 Worcester
The Epsom race is clearly the best of the six freebies, so let's see if we can unravel the 2.35 Epsom, aka the Princess Elizabeth Stakes. It's a 10-runner, Group 3 contest over 1m½f for 3yo+ fillies and mares. The going is officially said to be Good to Soft and these are the runners competing for a first prize of £39,697...
A decent enough field here, even if it doesn't look like the strongest Group 3 contest you'll see this summer. Only Tomorrow's Dream and Thank You Next are winless in their last five runs, whilst Lottie Marie and Illykato both won last time out. Lottie Marie is the only previous distance winner here and now steps up two classes, but the rest of the field raced in Class 1 company last time out. We have no course winners!
We've plenty of positive trainer/jockey form icons, the 3 yr old runners 7 to 9 look best off at the weights thanks to their allowances with numbers 1 and 5 the worst off. Prayer's Parent is a clear leader on the SR ratings.
Lottie Marie has been running really well on the A/W winning three times from her last five starts and finishing as a narrowly beaten (SH then NK) runner-up in the other two, but this is much tougher stepping up from Class 3 and her turf form isn't good. She's the worst rated on handicap marks and she'll struggle here.
Maamora won back to back 1m handicaps at Class 3 then Class 2 in the summer of 2019 before taking almost a year off. She returned to action to land a Group 3 contest over a mile at Sandown and then went back into the shed for 251 days prior to returning to racing at Goodwood five weeks ago. She was 5th of 6 in a 1m Listed race that day, but she was only 1.5 lengths adrift and could well have needed the run after only one previous outing in the prior 600 days! Every chance of making the frame here.
Parent's Prayer acts on softer ground and ended her 2020 campaign with a 3rd place in a Group 3 race and then by winning a Listed contest. Two runs this year have seen her finish as a runner-up in a Group 3 ove1m on soft ground and then she was beaten by less than a length last time out in another soft ground Gr3 affair, but over 7f. Definite chance here now that the ground is softer than would have been expected.
Posted won a Listed race at Sandown three starts ago, but has been beaten by 4L and 7L in two starts since and that win is her only success in 11 Class 1 races, where she has just 1 other placed finish (also at Listed class). 7f is probably her best trip and she's better on quicker ground and although she has ability, she tends to find at least one or two better than her. That'll probably happen here too.
Queen Kahlua's UK form amounts to a sole run in a listed event at Nottingham four weeks ago, when she was beaten by almost 6 lengths over 6f on heavy ground. She won twice over 7f in France, but was beaten 12 times and this looks set to go the same way.
Tomorrow's Dream is a handy handicapper, finishing 121 in three attempts, but she won at Class 5 and Class 3 and this is a far different game. She's had four cracks at Listed company finishing 7356 and this looks far too tough for her.
Illykato is unusual in this race as she's coming here off the back of both her best effort to date and also a Class 1 win. She stayed on well to nick a Listed event at Goodwood five weeks ago and has good Class 1 experience for a 3 yr old with 5 of her 7 starts being at Listed or better. She's in good nick and the 12lbs she receives from the top half of the card will be very useful.
Nazuna has the makings of a decent filly and has raced just five times so far. She won a maiden at Doncaster on her second outing and followed that up by finishing 2nd of 15 in a Class 2 handicap, beaten by just three quarters of a length over 6.5f at the same track. Her last UK run saw her improve again to get within 2 lengths of the winner, when second in the Group 2 Rockfel Stakes at Newmarket last September. Her only other run saw her go down by 6.5 lengths on the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf. I'm sure she'll go on to good things, but I'm concerned about her 7 months off track and this being her first UK crack at a one mile trip and also that she's unproven on softer ground.
Statement finished 221 in maidens last Autumn, winning on heavy ground. She returned from 177 days off track to almost land the Gr3 Fred Winter at Newbury in mid-April, but the game Alcohol Free held her off by a short head and although she was only 8th of 11 next/last time out a fortnight ago, that was the Class 1 1,000 Guineas and her first time over a mile, but she still got to within 6 lengths of the winner. A similar run puts her right in the mix here!
Thank You Next completes the line-up and I'd not be surprised if she's the last on the results list too. Finishes of 3131 in her first four outings (2 x novice and 2 x nursery) suggested a bright future, but she's winless in seven races since, making the frame just once. Better on the A/W and better over 6 or 7 furlongs, there's much not much hope here.
These 10 have a combined 89 UK/Ireland runs behind them, making the frame in 46 (51.7%) of them and going on to win 22 (24.7%) races. These are great numbers, but how much of their past form is actually relevant here? Instant Expert as the answers...
Those short on time can always use the place stats above to create a quick shortlist and if you ignore the field column and then focus on the ones with most green, you won't often be too far out.
However, 22 wins spread across 9 runners (Queen Kahlua has no UK/Ire form to speak of) isn't much and certainly not enough to paint a wholly accurate picture...
...but does still provide some pointers.
Now, Epsom is known to be tricky to ride, but there doesn't actually appear to be much of a draw bias here for 10 runners at this kind of trip on Good to Good/Soft ground...
Again, as I often do, I'm going to declare the numbers for stalls 5 & 6 as anomalous and it makes no sense to me that just two stalls can be so much worse, especially as stall 7's place stats seem artificially high too. So, for me, nobody is ruled out here on draw.
Pace, however, is a different story. Hold up horses do terribly, but the other three running styles all fare better than expected and the further forward you race, the better you seem to do...
And from a pace/draw combination...
...lowly drawn leaders and a mid-division position from a high draw are the two best situations to be in. The middle stalls that didn't loo great on the draw stats (that I'm choosing to ignore 😉 ) can still win, but do need to get out race up with the pace. And based on how these horses have raced in their last couple of outings is how we see them breaking out from the stalls...
The pace looks to be in the top half of the draw with Maamora leading the way. Stalls 8 & 10 will follow her and I think that pulls Statement further to the left on the chart as she might well set off a little quicker to keep in touch.
I've got it as a three horse race in my mind. I see Maamora setting the pace, but getting tired after a lack of race fitness. If i see it right, she finishes just outside the places and I've got her closely matched with Nazuna, who has ability, but probably just won't get there this time.
This leaves me with Parent's Prayer as my pick ahead of both Illykato and Statement. She'll relish softer ground, gets the trip and is proven at Class 1. At current odds of 9/1 with Hills, I'm more than happy to get involved with Parent's Prayer.
As for the runner-up, I don't have much on my figures between the two, but Statement shades it on my write-up, Instant Expert and even pace/draw, so it makes sense that she's my backup at 9/2 with the more than capable 7/1 shot Illykato also in the frame.