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Racing Insights, 4th May 2021

Got to hold my hands up, the only thing I got right about Monday's race was that it was competitive and of them could win or come last. Thankfully I'm usually a little bit better than that and the benefit of a daily piece is that it's never long before I get a chance to make up for a bad day!

So, to Tuesday, where feature of the day is The Shortlist report and our free races of the day are set to be...

  • 2.05 Gowran Park
  • 2.10 Fakenham
  • 4.05 Ayr
  • 4.15 Lingfield
  • 4.25 Fakenham
  • 5.40 Ballinrobe

The one that interested me most from The Shortlist report is now a non-runner, sadly, so I'm switching my attentions to the 4.25 Fakenham, which is the best of the UK free races, being the Norfolk National, a 14-runner, Class 3 Handicap Chase for 5yo+ horses over 3m6½f (after adding 301yds for rail movements) on good ground. The top prize is £10,892 and it will go to one of the following...

LTO winners : Game Line, Friends Don't Ask, Robin of Sherwood, Magic River, High Counsel
Others with at least one win from the last five outings : Sumkindofking, Strictlyadancer, Sackett, Findusatgorcombe
Course winners : Strictlyadancer, Sackett
Course & Distance winner : Friends Don't Ask
Down 1 class : Sumkindofking, Strictlyadancer
Up 1 class : Boughtbeforelunch, Flying Verse, Sackett, Lord Getaway, Magic River, High Counsel
Up 2 classes : Game Line, Friends Don't Ask, Robin of Sherwood

In competitive big-field handicaps, I like to look at the place records in similar past contests. This is done via Instant Expert, of course...

...where the following catches my eye.

Louis Vac Pouch is 18lbs lower than his last win, but Boughtbeforelunch is up 22lbs from his last winning mark and only Mercian Knight has yet to win over fences. Three of the four to have raced here over fences in the past have won here, only Magic River has failed to do so. Half of the field have won a stayers chase already and most have won on good ground.

The pace tab offers us little in the way of guidance today, so I'm bypassing that stage here.

To be honest, on this occasion, I'd prefer to stick with the ones who have won at least once in their last five outings and have also made the frame over a stayers trip in the past. It's not a wholly scientific approach, but it's very useful in quickly whittling a big field down to a shortlist of runners (the brief for Racing Insights is to show a variety of methods for race profiling). In this case, I'm reducing fourteen runners straight down to just six, namely Findusatgorcombe, Friends Don't Ask, High Counsel, Robin of Sherwood, Strictlyadancer and Sumkindofking.

Findusatgorcombe won over 3m7f at Exeter in December and followed that up with a runner-up finish over 3m1.5f at Wincanton, where he was done for finishing speed over the shorter trip. He was beaten by 19 lengths last time out in the Devon National, but travelled well until a mistake three out knocked the wind out of his sails. Has made the frame in 12 of 24 starts over fences and could be an E/W punt here.

Friends Don't Ask got off the mark by landing a Class 4 contest over course and distance here at the end of November before being pulled up over three furlongs further in the Class 2 Eider Chase at Newcastle from well out of the handicap. A big drop back in both class and trip saw him win over 3m2f at Class 5 around Fontwell and although he's in good nick, this will be tougher up in class, weight and trip.

High Counsel carries bottom weight here and races from 2lbs out of the handicap and comes here in good form albeit in much lower grade racing. At 12 yrs old, he's clearly no longer the horse that put a string of good results together in late 2019/early 2020. That said, he was a runner-up, beaten by just 1.5 legths over 3m6f at Warwick two starts ago and then won at the same venue over a shorter 3m trip 11 days later. It has to be said that he prefers shorter trips on softer ground at a lower class, so this might be difficult for him.

Robin of Sherwood won a couple of back to back 3m chases in the autumn and has been in consistent form this spring over shorter trips than today. He stepped up to 3m6f for the first time three weeks ago and was rewarded with a third career win. He's now on his highest ever mark and steps up tow classes, but he is in good nick right now.

Strictlyadancer has come on leaps and bounds since having the cheekpieces put on, finishing 11234 in five starts, which began with a win here at Fakenham in January 2020 over 2m6f prior to winning over 3m at Exeter some 10 months later. He last raced here in November, when a creditable (5.5 lengths) runner-up over this trip and ran a decent race in defeat at Haydock in a higher grade last time out.

Sumkindofking also ran in that Haydock race a month ago finishing five places and 22 lengths further back than Strictlyadancer and as he's worse off at the weights here due to jockey claims, it's hard to see him overturning the places. For a start, his jumping will need to improve as that LTO run was littered with mistakes which was unfortunate as he'd arrived at Haydock off the back of an easy win over 3m2.5f at Taunton.

Summary

I'm well aware that my not exactly scientific approach to shortlisting this field might well mean I've overlooked the winner here, but in these competitive big-field handicaps, my initial aim is really to see if I can quickly find a horse that might make the frame, so I look for form horses who have placed over today's trip. It does, of course, make me susceptible to an improver, but this "quick-pick" method gave me six horses to look at.

The plan then is to see if I think any are worth backing. We've four places to aim at, so I need to initially reduce my six runners to four and I think that Sumkindofking and High Counsel look the least likely to make the frame, leaving me with Findusatgorcombe, Friends Don't Ask, Robin of Sherwood and Strictlyadancer.

Of that quartet, I think Strictlyadancer has the best chance of success, but I think all four have a decent crack at making the frame, so I now need to check the prices...

Strictlyadancer is currently (5.00pm) the 5/1 favourite with both Bet365 & Hills and whilst I think he has a decent chance of winning, I'd not be rushing to back him at that price if I'm entirely honest, I thought he'd be a longer price. I'll have to give that some thought, but he's be the one I'd side with off my shortlist.

As regards to the other three, Findusatgorcombe is 18/1, Friends Don't Ask is 8/1 and Robin of Sherwood is 13/2. The last two are too short for me as E/W bets and as I already fancy one runner more than them, I'll be leaving them alone.

Findusatgorcombe, however, still interests me. I don't see him winning either, but he has every chance at making the frame and a small E/W punt at 18/1 appeals to me.

Racing Insights, 28th January 2021

Yesterday I said that..."I don't see much between Perfect Rose & Vivency for the win...I think I'd rather back her (Vivency) at 10/3 than the fav (Perfect Rose) at sub-2/1..." Vivency got up right on the line to deny perfect Rose by the shortest of short heads to land me a 10/3 winner, whilst the Exacta paid almost 8/1 for those of you who jumped on that too.

Things don't always go to plan, so it was nice to take another few quid from the layers today.

Thursday is almost upon us and the feature of the day is access to Instant Expert for ALL races, including our races of the day, which are...

  • 12.53 Fakenham
  • 2.20 Gowran Park
  • 3.10 Wetherby
  • 6.30 Newcastle

And I'm going to use the place element of Instant Expert to assess whether a couple of expected non-favs from Thursday would be likely to make the frame in what would appear to be favoured conditions, starting with a runner in the 1.55 Fakenham...

Aintree My Dream is now what we'd call a veteran at 11 yrs old, but he's not the old boy in this race that also features a pair of 12 yr olds. He's also not showing any real signs of slowing down, despite having lost each of his last 15 races (12 over fences). I say he hasn't slowed down, because he has finished in the first three home in eight of his last ten starts and has been the runner-up in his last two outings.

Beaten by just half a length over 2m4f on heavy on the 1st December, he then went down by a length and a quarter over the same trip but on soft ground at Sandown. Trainer Milton Harris is three from five over the past week, so he seems to have his string well tuned and in the shape of the wily/experienced paddy Brennan, we have a jockey who has made the frame in 18 of 35 starts over the past month  :very handy when we're looking for a placer.

Aintree My Dream's career record includes the following, based on placed finishes...

...and these are tremendous figures for a horse that has raced 29 times in total, making the frame on 14 occasions (48.3%). In addition to the above, his place record also includes of relevance here...

  • 11/21 with no headgear , 9/22 when not the fav , 9/16 sent off at 6/1 and shorter
  • 9/12 off a mark of 121-130 , 9/16 in fields of 8-11 runners , 7/18 going left handed
  • 6/12 in hcp chases , 5/12 after 16-30 days rest , 4/7 on heavy ground
  • 4/6 under today's jockey and 3/4 in January.

So, I'd say he has conditions to suit. My main reservation at this point is the fact that he's a confirmed hold up horse making his first ever visit to Fakenham, where hold up horses can (and do) win their share of races, but from a larger number of runners than other racing styles, as seen here...

Clearly 2 from 12 from leaders is far better than 2 from 26 held up, but I did mention the skewing of sample sizes yesterday regarding what is a true hold up horse as opposed to a slow one, so whilst I have reservations, I wouldn't discount the horse just yet. Something to think about, whilst I...

...take a look at one in the 6.00 Newcastle...

Boma Green is far less experienced/exposed than our first highlighted runner of course, as this 4 yr old has only raced seven times to date. he has yet to win, but has made the frame five times (71.4%) so far. He was a modest third at this class/track three starts ago when finishing third over 7 furlongs, beaten by 7.25 lengths, although the runner-up has since won another C5, 7f contest, albeit on soft ground.

Boma Green then stepped up in both Class and trip (C4, 1m) for a decent runner-up finish at Kempton when only beaten by a length and a quarter, so much more was expected of him in his last run (New Year's Eve) at Lingfield when sent off the 7/2 second favourite. Sadly he could only finish 8th of 11, beaten by nearly five lengths having weakened badly in the last of the seven furlongs off a mark of 76. He's down a class and a pound here, but back up a furlong.

Both his yard and his jockey have good records here at Newcastle, although they rarely team up here :  this will be just the fourth occasion.

We know that this horse has placed in 5 of 7 starts and they include...

He has placed in 2 of 4 A/W starts with his 3/3 on the Flat suggesting he's better on grass. He's 4 from 6 for this yard, 4 from 4 on a straight run and 3 from 4 at 16-30 days rest. He has also made the frame in 5 of 6 starts with no headgear, but wears cheekpieces for the first time here.

He's not one to lead if he can help it but does like to race prominently, which is a tactic that usually works well here...

...and whilst that looks good for him, he isn't particularly well drawn in stall five and there's no real pace in the race, meaning he might have to take it on for himself or suffer in a slowly run tactical affair. Here are the draw stats....

Summary

Aintree My Dream is currently 3rd fav at 6/1, I've got him as second best and roughly as far away from the winner as he is clear of the my third ranked horse. I agree with the market that Golden Whisky is the most likely winner and whilst 6/1 about Aintree My Dream is too short for me personally from an E/W perspective, I certainly expect him to make the frame. It might be worth putting a place bet on the exchanges or doing the forecast. Shanacoole Prince is interesting as a double-digit odds E/W punt, as he's better than his last run suggests.

Boma Green is also a 6/1 third fav right now, but he's not for me. I don't think the race is going to pan out as he'd like, I expect it might become a tactical affair and he will possibly get run out of it. There are two that do interest me for making the frame at decent odds, Jewel Maker and Traveller, but I'll be leaving Boma Green alone.

Racing Insights, 4th January 2021

As expected, Metier was an easy winner on Saturday despite a drift out from 6/5 to a far more backable 7/4, whilst the big-priced one I suggested (the 33/1 Tile Tapper) was third at 22/1. Sadly only 7 ran so no E/W payout generally, although some bookies/exchanges did 3 places.

And now to Monday, where our free feature is the PACE tab for all races, whilst our free racecards are offered for the following...

  • 1.25 Fakenham
  • 1.40 Lingfield
  • 2.55 Fakenham
  • 3.10 Lingfield

And I'm going to look at the first of those four, the 1.25 Fakenham, an 8-runner, Class 3, Handicap Hurdle for 4yo+ over 2m4f on soft ground with a first prize of £8447...

Paricolor is the form horse here, having won each of his last three starts, whilst Not A Role Model was also a winner last time out. Most of the rest have had a decent run or two fairly recently without actually visiting the winners' enclosure. All eight have been seen within the last 24 to 58 days so none are thrown back into action quickly, but nor have they got rusty.

The trainers of Group Stage and Shantung are the course specialists, whilst the Paricolor & Not A Role Model yards are the one in hottest form right now. From a jockey perspective, Foreign Secretary and No Quarter Asked have the in-form riders, whilst the jockey of the latter along with the rider of Shantung have good records here at the track. Only Ross Chapman aboard Show Promise has any red against his name after just 1 win from his last 53 rides.

Despite his lack of form, his mount ranks second on the Geegeez ratings sandwiched by Foreign Secretary and Paricolor and we should note that the latter steps up two classes today, as does No Quarter Asked and Hier Encore.

We've got soft ground forecast for this one and I would prefer to looking at horses who have fared well in the mud before now and the place element of Instant Expert...

...highlights Paricolor's 2 places from 2 starts on soft ground and Not A Role Model's full line of green. Group Stage is of interest at this point and there are some other promising signs dotted about, but when it comes to actually winning races...

...there's not a lot to shout about after Paricolor's 2 from 2 on soft. Show Promise is 1 from 3 on soft and also at this trip and Not A Role Model still has some green, but there lots of questions about the rest.

The final piece of the racecard jigsaw is the pace make-up of the race...

...where leaders and prominent runners have won 10 of 13 similar contests (77% SR) and taken 20 of the 34 places (58.8%) available, suggesting that Foreign Secretary and Paricolor might get the run of the race here, but with 3 wins (23%) and 7 places (20.6%) from hold up horses, Group Stage wouldn't be out of it either if not cast too far adrift.

And now the runners themselves, as data alone doesn't win races...

Foreign Secretary was a winner over hurdles (2m, Heavy) in Ireland and has made the frame twice in five runs since moving across the Irish Sea. He struggled last time out when beaten by 15 lengths as 7th of 16 over 2m3.5f at Taunton in first time blinkers and now he'll wear a visor for the first time. From a positive perspective, his jockey has 4 wins and 4 places from 18 over the last 30 days and his trainer is 4 from 8 with first time visors over the last five years, whilst he has a 32.7% strike rate with hurdlers at 2m3f-2m4f ion that same period.

Paricolor steps up in class here after winning three sellers (2 at C4 and one at C5) and whilst this is tougher, he's got that winning habit. He's 5 from 12 over hurdles (all in a tongue tie), including 5/8 with today's jockey, 3/3 on soft and 3/3 in blinkers. Conditions look ideal for him if he handles the step up in class. The Trainer/Jockey stats are good at 17 from 70 (24.3% SR) over the last year.

Not A Role Model is better known as a chaser (4 from 12 over fences), but reverts back to hurdling for the first time in almost three years, aiming to improve upon a 0 from 3 record in this sphere. Ended last season with a nice runner-up finish and then was a winner last time out over fences at this trip and grade, but now races of a mark 1lb lower than that win as he tackles the smaller obstacles. If adapting properly, he'll be one of the ones to watch/beat here. Trainer/Jockey are 5 from 19 (26.3% SR) over the last year and Simon Thomas does well with middle distance runners.

Group Stage won a juvenile hurdle Ludlow back on November 2019 and was a runner-up in a Listed event in February at Musselburgh before going off the boil. Returned to some kind of form with a decent third place at Doncaster LTO in this grade. He likes the soft ground (placed in 4 of 8 starts), but is hard to make a winning case for. That said, his yard have a decent record at this venue and his sire's hurdlers have a 1 in 5 record (25/125) including 5 from 13 at Class 3.

Show Promise is a lightly raced (just 9 starts) 7 yr old but was a runner-up in three of five bumpers and won on his hurdling debut almost a year ago. He has since been unplaced in a bumper, pulled up over fences and unplaced in two hurdle races since, so some improvement is needed here. And although Philip Kirby's runners tend to perform well on soft ground, I can't see where the horse's improvement is going to come from, especially with an out of sorts jockey on his back. I'd be surprised if he's anywhere near at the end.

Shantung was 0 from 4 in bumpers and is 1 from 14 over hurdles, which hardly inspires confidence, But after a wind op she has finished 434 in three outings and probably wasn't suited by the drop back to 2 miles last time out at Southwell, nor did she appear to like the brush hurdles. She's better than that run, but would have to step up to make the frame here in my opinion. From a stats-perspective, the Trainer/Jockey numbers are good at 7 from 29 (24.1%) over the last year, whilst the yard is 17/62 (27.4% SR) here over the last five years.

No Quarter Asked was a handicap hurdles runner-up at both Ffos Las and Chepstow back in October before making a chase debut at Hereford LTO (6th of 11, beaten by 11 lengths over 2m on soft at Class 5) His cheekpieces were removed LTO but are refitted here and although he reverts back to hurdles, he's going to need to show far more than he has done previously to even make the frame. No wins from twelve at Classes 4 and 5 doesn't bear well for a Class 3 contest, but both yard and jockey go well in the mud, so it's not an impossible task but it nearly is!

Hier Encore makes up the octet in race card order and I wouldn't be massively shocked if he was also last home. Nought from eleven on Flat /AW and subsequently 2 from 24 over hurdles say he's had a fair crack at being successful but just hasn't made it. Most of his best efforts come at Fontwell and he's 0 from 18 away from that track across all codes! Little positive to say about him other than both his wins did come on soft ground. I'd not be backing him with someone else's money, never mind my own!

Summary

Based on the racecard data and my mini-profiles aboive, you'll not be too surprised to learn that the two I like most (in racecard order) are Paricolor and Not A Role Model and before I look at the market, I'd probably just about have them in that order but there's not much between them on my figures.

The market tells me that they are generally available at 5/1 and 3/1 respectively and I think the former looks a little generous with the later probably about right.

Do we need a third horse for either an E/W punt or a tricast possibility? Well, based on what I've put above, Group Stage would be the "third wheel", but at 7/2 you're not getting rich off E/W betting. Only three horses are at what I'd deem E/W prices : Foreign Secretary, Show Promise & Hier Encore. I've already dismissed the latter and the other two don't really appeal either, but if pushed : Foreign Secretary would be the tentative suggestion.

Racing Insights, 17th November 2020

Monday's race somewhat fell apart before it started and further fragmented as it unfolded. Hats off the Geegeez-sponsored Anthony Honeyball who landed the race after Le Coeur Net was left with a virtual open goal 2 out.

Tuesday's free feature is the Shortlist report, whilst our free cards cover...

  • 12.50 Southwell
  • 1.55 Limerick
  • 2.33 Fakenham
  • 3.40 Newcastle

...and there's very little on the Shortlist, so we're off to to Norfolk, for the 2.33 Fakenham, a 7-runner, Class 3 Mares Handicap Hurdle for 4yo+ over 2m0.5f on good ground worth £8,187 and the card looks like this...

...where all bar Fantastic Ms Fox and Nordican Bleue have had the benefit of a run already this season, but those two haven't been seen for 14 and 9 months respectively and could well need the run!

Of the five with a prior recent run, Getariver and Midnights Gift bring the best form to the table and both feature at the head of the Geegeez ratings (just behind A Little Chaos). Now, a brief overview of the runners in racecard order...

Midnights Gift is running well this season (243 so far), drops two classes today and is a former course and distance winner. She's also a daughter of the mighty (but sadly departed) Midnight Legend, whose 4-8 yr old daughters sent off shorter than 10/1 in Class 3-5 handicap hurdles over 2m1f and shorter are 17 from 68 (25% SR) since the start of 2016.

Nanabelle is a very lightly raced 4 yr old who was comprehensibly beaten second/last time out at Cheltenham, coming home 10th of 17, some 27 lengths off the pace. It was, in fairness, her first effort for eight months so she might come on for the run, but she's going need some serious improvement to land this, despite a 4lb drop in weight. Her yard is in good form and has a decent record at this venue. whilst jockey Daryl Jacob is hot right now.

Hijran ran in that same race at Cheltenham and finished a further four places and 20 lengths behind Nanabelle. She's now 2lbs better off than Nanabelle, but logic says neither should win here! In her defence, the 7 yr old is 4 from 15 over hurdles including 3 from 7 in fields of 1-7 runners and 3 from 6 over today's trip. She's to be ridden by Ben Godrey who is more than useful with his 7lb claim (won today's featured race on Le Coeur Net).

Getariver is three from three in bumpers and has finished in the first three home in three of four hurdles starts (4th of 11 in the other). A decent runner-up finish last time out, going down by just a length over today's trip having been caught very late on. She represents Team Skelton where both yard and jockey have good individual and combined records here at Fakenham and are both going along nicely right now. Up a grade here today, though.

Nordican Bleue is 223121 over hurdles, all achieved in a 13-month spell for August 2018 and would be towards the head of my thinking, but for the fact that she hasn't been seen for 14 months having refused to line up on her intended return back in July! Yard and jockey have both been amongst the winners of late, whilst the rider has a good longer-term record at this venue. She might need the run and I'm not sure she has been well treated by the assessor for her handicap debut.

Fantastic Ms Fox was good enough to win a Listed contest back in January but was subsequently beaten by some 20 lengths in a Grade 2 at Kempton a month later. The Listed win will make her popular here, but I'm concerned about the near-nine month layoff, despite a distinct drop in class here.

A Little Chaos tops the the Geegeez ratings but will need to up her game here, based on her last run when beaten by 20 lengths on this track a month ago. In fairness, it was her first run for 573 days but this is a step up in class from that run. She now drops back in trip and is a former course and distance winner, so might be better suited to the task in hand.

My next port of call is, of course, the Instant Expert, which should tell us at a glance how these runners have previously performed in a set of circumstances...

...and the only real negative there is Nanabelle, so I'm dropping her from the proceedings at this point and therefore by my earlier logic I also need to discard Hijran before I look at how the race might unfold aided by the pace tab...

...where from a strike rate & profitability angle, backing leaders has proved successful.  It looks like Getariver will look to get out quickly and stay there with A Little Chaos tucked in behind. As ever, there's going to be a pack travelling together waiting for mistakes or for a chance to kick on in the closing stages, but at the front is where you's probably want to be.

So, where are we? I've already said I don't fancy Nanabelle and Hijran and I'm now going to disregard Nordican Bleue due to the layoff/rise in class/hcp debut etc and also Fantastic Ms Fox because of her layoff.

To back the above up, 4/5 yr old female handicap hurdlers win less than 3% of races at an A/E of just 0.37 coming off a layoff of eight months or longer.

Summary

I'm now left with my usual three-runner shortlist, which today comprises A Little Chaos, Midnights Gift and Getariver and I've very little between the last two, but have them both someway ahead of A Little Chaos.

I have a marginal preference for Midnights Gift over Getariver, as MG drops in class and is a former C&D winner, whilst Getariver is up in class today. The market neither pleases nor displeases me, as although I'm happy that it agrees with me, I'm disappointed that both of my preferred options are a little shorter than I'd hopes. My third best, however, looks very interesting at 9/1 and would be the one to be on should either of the preferred pair slip up.

Good Luck!

Racing Insights, 28th October 2020

Tuesday's race didn't go entirely as I thought it would, but I did still manage to land on the winner, who actually won quite cosily dropping in class. I'd dutched him with another runner, so made a couple of points profit, which was nice but not retirement money, so I'll have to go again for Wednesday's racing, where the free feature is the amazing Trainer Stats report, which just happens to be one my favourite Geegeez features, whilst our free racecards are for...

  • 1.15 Nottingham
  • 1.50 Nottingham
  • 3.50 Nottingham
  • 4.25 Dundalk
  • 5.30 Dundalk
  • 8.15 Kempton

And it's the report that I'll be using for today's piece, based on the Trainer, 5 year Course handicap results as follows...

...which shows that Neil Mulholland's Fakenham handicappers have a 1 in 3 record over the last five years, they make the frame in more than half of their races and are profitable to follow. The A/E is at the low end of my requirements but the IV is excellent at 2.19.

As you can see, Neil has two out on Wednesday, so let's look at each in turn, starting with Master Burbidge in the 1.32 race, a 5-runner, Class 5, Selling Handicap Chase for 4yo+ over 2m6f on Good ground worth £4265 which looks a little (well, a lot) like this...

... where the likely favourite Princeton Royale possesses the only real discernible piece of real form, courtesy of a win over a similar trip at Class 3 two starts ago. Neil Mulholland's C5 icon stands out here (as does the jockey of Wicked Willy, but more on him later!).

The only snippet of interest is the fact that Abbey Lane steps up in class for a yard debut and whilst that might not appear of obvious interest, he's 15 yrs old and now debuts for his sixth trainer, having previously been trained by the likes of Elliott & Mullins! He also hasn't been on a racecourse for over 41 months, so I'm really not sure why he's here.

Instant Expert doesn't actually tells us a great deal abut any of the runners to be honest...

...other than the likely fav has done really well on good ground, but the place tab is more informative...

...with the Mulholland runner having a decent place strike rate at Class 5 and also over this type of trip, but looking like he'll struggle to match either of the two listed above him. Pace-wise, it generally pays to be up with, if not actually setting the pace in these kind of events and sadly once again there are a couple of runners who look better suited than our boy...

As for his recent form and overall profile, it's not great, really, even though he's a useful/versatile sort with wins on the A/W (Polytrack, but handled Fibresand & Tapeta well too) over hurdles and fences. Unfortunately, he comes here on a run of 17 consecutive defeats over a near-31 month dry spell and has finished 4th of 5 and 8th of 9 in his last two for a combined deficit of 78 lengths and I'd not be surprised if he only beats the old boy this time around.

In his defence, he likes good ground (3 from 12 at NH), has a 4 from 12 record at Class 4 and runs best within a month of his last outing whilst wearing cheekpieces. He does, however, do most of his best work in the spring and he's not one to put money on here.

So let's leave Master Burbidge alone and switch attention to Neil Mulholland's other Fakenham 'capper, Dream Machine, who goes in the 3.32 race, a 10-runner, Class 4 Handicap Hurdle for 3yo+ over 2m½f also on Good ground and worth £5588 to the winner...

Dream Machine looks well placed in the Geegeez ratings and will be ridden by Sam Twiston-Davies (who'll be on Wicked Willy in the 1.32 contest above) and Sam also has the C5 icon, suggesting that he's one of the jockeys you'd want on board.

Sam doesn't actually venture to Fakenham too often, having raced in just 35 hurdles contests since the start of 2015, but it's not a lack of success that keeps him away, as he has a place strike rate of 55% (11 placers) including seven winners (35%).

And whilst we're talking numbers, I might as well add that Neil Mulholland's Fakenham hurdlers are 17 from 47 (36.2%) since 2014, including 14/32 (43.75%) in handicaps, 9/28 (32.1%) at Class 4 and 7 from 17 (41.2%) in Class 4 handicaps.

All well and good, of course, but what of Dream Machine's chances/suitability here? Well, Instant Expert is inconclusive again from a win perspective...

...whilst the place angle suggests that several others might be better suited...

...although Dream Machine is all amber and green with a steady 40%-60% record across all criteria, a level of consistency that prove beneficial here. From a pace perspective, he's an out and out hold up horse and that tactic isn't such a bad thing in this type of contest with mid-division runners and hold up horses faring best...

For the record, he's a fair if unspectacular hurdler who was useful on the Flat over 10f. His sole hurdles success from eight attempts came over this trip, at this grade and on good ground and although he seemed to struggle last time out, he ran really well two starts ago at Southwell.

He was third that day, less than five lengths off the pace with the winner then going out to win a gain twelve days later despite being upped two classes, so a reproduction of that run, which came off a mark 3lbs higher than this contest, would put him in the mix, but there's no guarantee that'll happen, of course.

Summary

Neil Mulholland has two chances of improving an already excellent record in handicaps here at Fakenham, but on this occasion I don't see him landing a win.

Both Master Burbidge and Dream Machine have ability, but other rivals seem more likely/reliable. Of the two, Dream Machine has the better chance but would need some luck to land the win, but has every chance of a place.

I'm leaving Master Burbidge alone, but I will back Dream Machine at 11/1 E/W with Bet365, whilst Skybet are offering four places if that's of any interest.