Nothing to report re: Monday's race, as Chelmsford's meeting was abandoned after one race due to a blanket of fog descending upon Essex this afternoon.
Tuesday's feature of the day is the Shortlist report, whilst the free cards are for...
- 2.00 Punchestown
- 2.55 Wolverhampton
- 3.00 Punchestown
- 4.30 Wolverhampton
I don't really fancy any of those four from a profiling perspective, but I did spot a runner on the Shortlist with a maximum score of 15...
...but you can't just assume he'll win the race without seeing what he's up against in the 2.08 Fontwell : an 8-runner, Class 3, Handicap Chase for 4yo+ over 2m6f on Soft ground worth £7,018 to the winner.
...where half of the field, Earth Moor included, hail from yards with good course records here at Fontwell (C1 C5), whilst the vast majority will be ridden by riders in good form (14 30), good course records (C1 C5) or both.
Black Kalanisi, Aintree My Dream, Mortens Leam and Antony have all had the benefit of a good run in the last couple of months, whilst none of the eight come here needing a run. Kilbricken Storm and The Dubai Way are dropping in class, whilst we have two course and distance winners on show today, Mortens Leam and Antony. Earth Moor has won at both course and distance separately (*as per the Shortlist), and Aintree My Dream has won over today's trip.
Mortens Leam, Black Kalanisi and Antony head the Geegeez ratings, whilst both Kilbricken Storm & Uncle Danny are unrated due to a lack of recent chase form.
I'll have a closer look at the more interesting runners after assessing the Instant Expert & Pace tabs...
...where the "greenery" is definitely top-heavy on the card. Kilbricken Storm ticks many boxes, aside from the distance criteria, but he is 2 from 6 over 3 miles, so will stay. Earth Moor we know about from the Shortlist. Black Kalanisi only fails on going, but 0 from 1 isn't enough to make a decision upon, especially as he's 1 from 1 on heavy ground, whilst Class is the only doubt re: The Dubai Way, but the one Class 3 he did win was a better/more valuable contest than this.
Of the others, only Uncle Danny looks out of his depth and his sole soft ground success was more than five years ago. At the age of 11, he's (a) not getting any better and (b) not the horse that was still running well in Class 1 chases at Leopardstown in early 2018. He was 3rd in a Grade 1, then a runner-up beaten by less than 2 lengths in a Grade 2 behind the subsequent winner of 2018's Grade 1 Munster National. He was then off the track for 976 days before reappearing at Kempton in a Class 3 contest over 2m2.5f, coming home last of nine, some 75 lengths off the pace. His best days are behind him and he's not for me today.
The remaining seven runners step forward to the next stage of analysis, the pace tab...
...where we're told that in 18 previous similar contests, leaders won 5 (27.8%), whilst Prominent and Hold-Up horses both won 6 (33.3%). What that says to me is that race positioning here at Fontwell isn't as important as it might be at other venues. It's not to be disregarded, but it's not of the utmost relevance here.
We've still got seven in play, so let's take a closer look at them individually to see if anything ticks or crosses any boxes for us...
Kilbricken Storm was pulled up at the last fence at Bangor four weeks ago in a 3 mile contest, but in his defence, he'll have needed the run after (a) 244 days off track and (b) not having raced over fences for almost two years. This will only be his fourth crack at fences, so he's not totally exposed and did win a 3m Novice Chase on heavy ground at the first attempt. A mid-140's rated hurdler, could possibly be well treated off 135 here for trainer Colin Tizzard, who is 12/54 (22.2% SR) with chasers here at Fontwell over the last four years from which jockey Harry Cobden is 7 from 20 (35%).
Earth Moor was our original shortlisted horse, but all those stats were achieved over hurdles. He returned to action almost six weeks ago to make his chasing debut despite being off track for 238 days and was well beaten from a long way out over 2m5f. He plodded on to finish fifth, 22 lengths off the pace and 15L behind the re-opposing Black Kalanisi. His jumping might let him down but that said, trainer Philip Hobbs' chasers are 11/25 (44%) here since 2015 with today's jockey Richard Johnson riding 6 winners from 10 (60%).
Black Kalanisi was ahead of Earth Moor in late October as mentioned above, as he finished third at a big price. He then stepped up in class to win a Class 3 contest at Plumpton on his chase handicap debut and although he has been raised four pounds for that win, he'll be a player here today. He was more than useful on the Flat, A/W, in bumpers and over hurdles and has taken to chasing pretty well. He's now had 20 runs across all spheres and is certainly race-smart, having managed to win at all bar the A/W. Whether he's the best here or not, his nous will make him hard to beat.
The Dubai Way was 8th of 14 and beaten by 22 lengths on his return to action in October after a break of over eight months. He then stepped up to Class 2, but didn't jump well before being pulled up three out. Back down in both trip and class, he's still a little high in the weights for my liking and it has been over a year since he last ran well. Trainer Charlie Mann's soft ground chasers are 11 from 47 (23.4% SR) over 2m3.5f to 3m1f during the last five years, but I'll pass on this one.
Aintree My Dream is the type to make me look a tad inconsistent, as I do prefer him over some others, despite him being 10 yrs old and hasn't ticked as many boxes as some of his rivals in my earlier analysis. However, like Black Kalanisi above, he's race-smart and unlike many of these here, he's pretty consistent. That consistency sort of leads to my main criticism of him, in that he doesn't win often enough and has, in fact, been beaten in each of his last fourteen starts. However, he has finished in the first three home in seven of his last nine outings. Neither his yard nor his jockey are in particularly great form and whilst I think he could win this, recent history suggests he's a placer at best.
Mortens Leam is an interesting sort, a solid Class 4/5 chaser a couple of winters ago then lost his way a little before returning to form around this time last year. He signed off the last campaign with a narrow (0.75 length) win in March of this year, before then being beaten by the same distance as a runner-up 230 days later. He's up 4lbs, but has a 7lb claimer on board today and as a former course and distance winner, will be on familiar territory. He's up in class today and I'd feel more confident if his usual 7lb claimer was on board, as today's jockey has only one win from 20 over fences in the past year.
Antony has produced a couple of runner-up finishes over fences this winter season already, bit both were at a lower grade than this and the second run wasn't as goods as the first and he's been raised another pound for his efforts. His profile ticks boxes for course, class, going, distance, jockey booking etc, but he's 10 yrs old and past his best and his race reports are littered with references to jumping/jinking left, making jumping errors etc, so I think he'll be best left alone here as the step up in class is likely to make him feel the pressure even more.
I've removed The Dubai Way and Antony from my considerations, leaving me with five to think about. The reality is that any of the five could go on to win and I'll probably end up kicking myself about the final two discards, but I do need to get this down to a workable three (or less).
Black Kalanisi will be tough to beat if it comes to a scrap and I can see why he's the 11/4 favourite, as I have him as top of my own rankings, so he stays in. Next on my own list is Aintree My Dream, but I don't see him winning here. I'd have been happier with a different jockey, as like the horse jockey Mitchell Bastyan has devloped a losing habit. Just one chase win from 35 over the last 13 months isn't good and he's still a 3lb claimer after almost 450 rides. The market has him at 10/3 and I don't want to back him at that price, when he's essentially an E/W horse.
My next best was Kilbricken Storm, who I had pretty close to Aintree My Dream on my numbers. Neither proven nor disproven over fences, he could be thrown in based on his hurdling mark. If he stays out of trouble, he could cause a small surprise at 11/2 here. Of the remaining two, I just about prefer Mortens Leam over Earth Moor, but again there's not much in it. Mortens is in good form but I'm not keen on the jockey choice, whilst Earth Moor stats (albeit over hurdles) on his side, but needs to prove himself over fences.
I like Black Kalanisi here and he's the 11/4 favourite.I'm not averse to backing favourites, some actually win, of course! It's a case of backing the right one and at 11/4, I don't think I can back him right now. In a fairly open contest, I think I'd want about 7/2 here, so I'll have to wait and see. Kilbricken Storm, on the other hand, I expected to see at 9/2 or possibly shorter, so I'm happy to stick a couple of quid down on him.
I'll leave Aintree My Dream alone at 10/3, whilst 6/1 about Earth Moor is more attractive than the 9/2 offered for Mortens Leam, but they'll not be having my money. I'd like Aintree to make the top three purely to validate my own figures/reasoning, but as I'm not backing him, I'd rather he didn't win!