Saturday’s 1.20pm at Goodwood, a 7f, class 2 handicap for the classic generation, is a race where there should be some strong course biases on display so it looks a good race to cover this week. The Geegeez Gold data should help us narrow this field down significantly.
These previews have to be written early which means there is always some guesswork involved with the ground when there is an uncertain forecast. The assumption at the time of writing is that the ground will be good, maybe just on the fast side of good.
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There is normally a pretty strong bias around the bend over the 7f course at Goodwood, this isn’t the biggest field (11 runners) so will the draw have an impact on this contest?
There certainly still seems to be a bias towards those drawn low, even in this mid sized field. High draws win half as often as middle draws who in turn win around three quarters as often as low draws. The place data follows a similar trend and the PRB figures for low, middle and high are 0.54, 0.50 and 0.46 respectively.
The individual draw data tells us that there is a steady decline in performance the further from the inside rail you are drawn with stall 1 generating the best PRB figure and the highest stall generating the worst PRB. Stall 2 performs best for both wins and places.
In this field size every stall certainly has a chance of winning but it’s pretty clear that a lower draw gives an advantage and ideally you probably don’t want to be drawn higher than about 7.
We saw a fair sized draw advantage over this course and distance, what about a pace bias?
A fairly significant bias again, this time leaning towards those ridden nearer the pace. The win percentage data largely supports an argument that the closer you are to the pace the more chance you have of winning and the place percentage data backs that up completely with front running doing best (50% place strike rate), prominent doing next best (33.12%), then mid division (24.75%) followed by held up (21.11%).
The difference in percentages is around 17%, then around 8%, then around 3%, so the advantage seems to be growing exponentially the closer to the pace you are and front runners enjoy a big edge here.
Interestingly backing both front runners and prominent racers blind for both win and place is profitable so it looks as though we want something that races near the pace or something that looks extremely well handicapped if it’s going to be patiently ridden.
A strong pace here could swing things back in favour of the more patiently ridden contingent so we should take a look at the pace map.
There are three pace angles in this race so we could get an at least evenly run contest but those pace angles occupy the three highest stalls. Their best hope is to get across early so we could see a very quick first furlong with three wide drawn front runners all attacking from the gates to get the ideal position on the inside rail.
There seems to be a distinct lack of prominent racers so if you wanted to back something near the early lead then there are only three real contenders for this according to the pace map. Farasi Lane looks most likely to be the one that tracks the front three.
Draw and Pace Combination
With strong draw AND pace biases here we’ll presumably see a big advantage to low drawn front runners, of which we don’t seem to have any.
As predicted, the best place to be as far as finishing ahead of rivals is on the front end from a low draw. It’s interesting to note that leaders from high draws don’t have a good record. They must have to use too much fuel early to get that position from their draw and with all three front runners likely to go fast competing for that early lead we could end up seeing all three fade late on.
Those that are drawn high seem best off racing in mid division, although dropping them out isn’t a major disadvantage either. If you are drawn in the middle you can gain an advantage by front running but all other run styles seem fairly similar in terms of result. As for low draws, front running is obviously best of all and then there isn’t much difference between being prominent or mid division but the low draw advantage is nullified if a horse is held up. This is because they are unlikely to get a clear run on the rail and if they switch they have to go around the entire field.
Applying these findings to the pace map, Quintillus and Seven Brothers have actually got relatively good draws for their run styles, whereas Spirit Of Bermuda, Just Frank and Red Mirage do not.
Farasi Lane probably has the best run style from the low draws and you wouldn’t want to rule out Run For Freedom solely because of draw and pace. Master Zoffany and Shark Two One look likely to forfeit their draw advantage by being most patiently ridden.
Here are the runners, in early odds order, from most fancied to least fancied.
Hasn’t fared well with the draw but likely to be fairly patiently ridden anyway. He was sent off just 6/4 in a warm Newmarket maiden on debut so has clearly been well thought of at home. He could only manage 4th that day but won easily on his second start, switched to the all weather, hammering Run To Freedom who is now rated 91 and reopposes here. That form makes him look very well handicapped.
He didn’t seem to see a mile out on his next two starts and was subsequently gelded before running much better over that trip in the Britannia Handicap, finishing a close up 3rd. Only four of the first ten home in that race have run since but they’ve produced form figures of 9111 so it’s clear that was a hot race, as it often is. He may well improve over a sharper test here but he is up another 5lbs.
Has shown his best form at 7f but also with cut in the ground and a drying surface here may be of a little concern. Both wins this season have come at Chester, beating several subsequent winners off a 9lbs lower mark and a couple of subsequent placers off a 3lb lower mark last time. Just Frank was 0.75 lengths behind that day and is 3lb better off here.
The feeling is Master Zoffany can win again but his inside draw here means he either has to go the brave man’s route which will more likely than not result in traffic problems or he’ll have to circle the entire field. That combined with the fact the ground might not have enough juice in it is reason to oppose at the price for all he is one to be positive about in the future.
Spirit Of Bermuda
Ran a good 4th in a hot Newmarket handicap in April.
The winner is now rated 22lbs higher, the runner up has won his only start since, the 3rd won next time out by over 3 lengths and the 5th has since won a race by 6 lengths. The 6th has also won since.
He blotted his copy book when refusing to race next time but has won both starts since, seeming to relish the drop back to this 7f. That latest win is working out well with the 2nd and 8th winning next time out and the 6th finishing runner up on his next start so a 2lb rise for that looks very lenient and he’s still only 7lbs higher than that run in the hot Newmarket handicap in April. Fast ground seems quite important so drying ground will improve his chances and the only real negative is the wide draw but at least he’s lowest drawn of the potential pace angles.
Hasn’t gone on as expected since winning a soft ground Nottingham novice in May and had looked well handicapped off this sort of mark on a couple of bits of form. A fast 6f at York probably didn’t suit ideally and others who ran well from off the pace in that race have been winning or running well since but he was still a bit disappointing at Ascot’s stiffer 6f with the ground seemingly in his favour last time. This step up in trip will need to bring about plenty of improvement but drying ground might not be ideal and neither is his run style.
Habitual front runner who is closely matched with Master Zoffany on Chester form. He’s run since then, finishing 3rd at Doncaster on ground that might have been a bit faster than ideal. First time cheekpieces go on here which means his performance could go either way. An easy 7f with a bit of cut in the ground is probably going to prove ideal but this race is normally won by something far more progressive, for all he isn’t badly handicapped.
Reacted well to first time cheekpieces in November, winning a handicap comfortably, so it was a surprise to see that headgear dispensed with for his next three runs. He was only narrowly beaten here on one of those and was a creditable 2nd at Newmarket (4th and 6th won since) but upped his form again last time with cheekpieces reapplied, winning a decent Sandown handicap comfortably. He’s now won nicely twice on the two occasions he’s worn this headgear and it stays on this time.
He's up 5lbs but he was far superior in that last race and the 2nd and 3rd have both finished runner up since so the form of that run is okay. He’s been ridden a bit more aggressively than usual in the headgear so he may well be prominent here from a good draw. Most of his form is with a bit of cut but he was only beaten a short head here on good to firm earlier this season leaving him with very few questions to answer.
Oo De Lally
Split two progressive types over course and distance on soft ground in May and won a decent Newcastle handicap over this trip on his next start off a 2lb higher mark. Was raised 4lbs for that and then pitched into listed company at Chester on his next start, running below form and finishing last, beaten 12 lengths. The draw was against him but doesn’t really explain a performance quite that bad. He’s the type to bounce back but he does now have something to prove, especially on what could be faster ground.
Run To Freedom
Both runs this season have come at Sandown, runner up on the first of those in a race that was almost certainly weaker than this and then a well beaten 6th behind Farasi Lane last time out. He was sent off favourite for that and should be better than that form but neither of the runs this season are likely to be good enough to win this.
Won his first three starts but paid for an easy Kempton handicap win with an 11lb rise in the weights and he’s been beaten 5 lengths and 10 lengths. That latter effort was his only run on turf and it was his worse effort to date plus he’s badly drawn so he looks very opposable, for all he could be one of those Mark Johnston horses that bounces back from a poor run or two.
Shark Two One
Sent off at 50/1 and 5.5 lengths behind Master Zoffany last time out. That was his best run this season but it still seems he’s not as good as last season and therefore badly handicapped on those efforts last term. Also a non runner on fast ground this season and all his best form is on much more testing ground so opposable again here.
Won three of seven starts including seasonal debut in April off this mark, beating the well handicapped Popmaster. Much better than the bare result at Newmarket on his next start in a hot handicap but ran poorly at York on his next start. Blinkers went on for the first time last time out in a hot Newmarket sprint handicap and although only 11th and beaten 4.75 lengths he still finished his race off well enough. The blinkers aren’t retained here.
He's fairly handicapped on a couple of bits of form this season and therefore looks a big price but he does have to prove a step up in trip is what he wants. He is bred for sprinting so he’ll probably need to lower his sights a little at 6f rather than going up to this distance in order to get his fourth career win.
The trio who make most appeal here are Quintillus, Spirit Of Bermuda and Farasi Lane.
Had Spirit Of Bermuda had a much lower draw he’d be a pretty confident selection as he’d have a great chance of making all. The record of wide drawn front runners over this course and distance is just about enough to put me off at the price, wide drawn leaders haven’t even had a place in five attempts in the data sample used in the Draw Analyser.
Quintillus will probably improve for the drop in trip and the Britannia Handicap is working out nicely. He’s clearly been well regarded and he has a massive form chance. He’s not well drawn in 8 though and although his run style might nullify that bad draw, being held up here is a disadvantage so against some decent opposition he’ll need to be extremely well handicapped. At the price I can let him win.
The one with seemingly everything possibly in his favour is FARASI LANE. He’s a bit more exposed than some of these but he’s well drawn, proven at the course, won a decent race last time out, came 2nd in a hot race on his penultimate start and crucially nothing has got near him in two starts with these cheekpieces on. He’s as big as 10/1 in places at the time of writing and that just looks far too big as an each way bet in what should be a very good race.
These three runners will be ridden by the three jockeys in this race with the most wins at this venue in the past couple of years so they’ll all be in good hands to give their running.