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Hever Sprint Preview: Consistent Runner Could Be Lord Of The Lings

The Eider Chase at Newcastle is probably Saturday’s big betting race but there is also some nice live racing from Lingfield on Saturday including the Winter Derby and the Hever Sprint. We are sure to find some course biases in the latter (2.05 Lingfield) and they may well end up setting us up for a decent bet.

Draw

Around a sharp 5f there isn’t a lot of time to recover a poor position so the draw data here should be enlightening.

There isn’t a huge difference in win percentage or place percentages across the board, most likely because of the small field size. Even for a small field size, it’s slightly surprising to see the highest win percentage go to the highest draws. The flip side of that is the place percentage, which has twice as much data, sees high draws come off worst. It’s the PRB (percentage of rivals beaten) that gives us the most data though and a low draw PRB of 0.52, middle draw PRB of 0.51 and high draw PRB of 0.47 suggests a low to middle draw is still preferable, although only slightly.

Over a few different trips at Lingfield stall 1 performs poorly but in this field size over this trip stall 1 actually has the best PRB (0.55) and highest win percentage (24.07%). Stalls 5 and 6 are the worst performers according to PRB and it looks as though you ideally want to be in the lowest four stalls.

Pace

The minimum distance tends to be one where we see the strongest pace bias at many courses and Lingfield is no different.

There looks to be a strong edge towards front runners over this course and distance in similar field sizes. Front runners have been ridiculously profitable to follow with a win PL of 250.05! The IV for front runners is 2.06, almost twice as large as that of the next best run style and almost four times as big as the IV for hold up runners.

The win percentage, place percentage, win PL, each way PL and IV all steadily fall the further back in the field you look at which strongly points to an extensive bias here. It’s also worth noting that 142 winners from the races in the data set have been won by front runners of prominent racers whilst just 67 winners have been placed in mid division or held up early. There were slightly more runners from the latter group so you can certainly expect most winners to be near the pace here.

Pace and Draw Combination

The pace and draw combination heat map can sometimes put a different spin on any potential draw or pace bias or can show any micro advantages there could be over course and distance.

There is some really interesting data in this heat map. The draw data tells us that a high draw isn’t much of a disadvantage, if any. However we can now see that high drawn front runners perform well, better than any other draw/pace combination in fact. The consequence of that is that high drawn prominent racers, mid division runners or hold up performers all perform worse on average compared to their lower drawn counterparts.

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We also see that the worst performance at all comes from low drawn hold up horses. The PRB is almost half of what it is for low drawn front runners. This goes to show that not all low drawn horses are created equal here.

It’s pretty clear to see you either want to be a front runner from any draw or a low to middle drawn prominent racer or mid division runner.

Hever Sprint Pace Map

Let’s take a look at the pace map for this contest to see the likely pace setup:

Ornate is the main pace angle here but it’s possible Lord Riddiford could contest that pace. What stands out here is that all the pace is in the lowest two stalls. Ornate is normally pretty quick from the gates so he may be able to get across Lord Riddiford but it seems likely Lord Riddiford won’t make life easy for Ornate on the front end.

We’ve established that anyother kind of ride than front running is a big disadvantage for high drawn horses so there certainly have to be some question marks over Royal Birth and Rocket Action, and also Blue De Vega to a certain extent. Rocket Action is fairly well fancied here and his run style and draw combination could be a problem.

Belle Anglaise has plenty to find on form and her run style isn’t going to be much help here despite a decent draw whilst hot favourite Moss Gill is quite tactically versatile so P J McDonald would be sensible to track the pace from an okay draw in stall 4.

The Runners

Only seven runners to go through, let’s look at them in market order.

Moss Gill

It's no great surprise to see Moss Gill hovering around even money for this contest. He’s got 7lbs or more in hand of the rest of the field, he’s never been out of the first two in three runs on artificial surfaces and he’s already a listed winner. He also won off a similar break this time last year, albeit in a lower grade.

The bad news is he’s never run on polytrack and he’s been held up on two of his last three starts. If similar tactics were to be employed here he could end up forfeiting the 7lb+ advantage he has over this field based on official ratings. If you wanted to be even pickier you could ignore his runs at York, which seems to be his favourite track (form figures of 12233 there). He’s been well enough beaten at other venues at listed level twice and Group 3 level once which is a slight concern.

His best run to date was a 3rd in the Nunthorpe behind Battaash last year and if able to replicate that form he’d be almost impossible to beat here against this field.

Rocket Action

Rocket Action is returning from a similar kind of break as the favourite and he too has a very good all weather record. He’s one of just three runners in this who bring a triple figure official rating into the race and he ran a solid 4th in a competitive Group 3 at Dundalk last time out.

He’s another who hasn’t yet run at Lingfield though. His run style would be a big concern from any draw and it’s a particular concern from the widest stall. He may well end up finding this test too sharp and he would have made far more appeal at Wolverhampton where he has won all three of his starts.

Blue De Vega

Blue De Vega is the other runner to be rated 100 or over in this and he’s arguably the stable second string, despite being rated 1lb higher than Rocket Action. He’s another who hasn’t been seen since the tail end of the flat turf season but he has at least run well after a break before.

He’s a past Group 3 winner and has been rated 110 previously but he is 8 now and perhaps a bit past his prime. He has won on artificial surfaces before but he’s yet another to have never run here and he certainly doesn’t look an all weather specialist like Rocket Action. He generally raced prominently last season so might not be badly placed but he would need to improve on last season’s form to win this.

Lord Riddiford

This speedy prominent racer/front runner has now hit a career high rating signalling the fact that he’s been as good as ever this winter. He has a better win ratio on sand compared to turf and he’s won three times on Chelmsford’s polytrack course but he’s never run here. It’s a course that should suit his style and as a winner at courses like Goodwood and Windsor he’s no stranger to a speedy or sharp 5f.

In fact if you use the ‘General Config’ filter on his form you can see he does very well on courses with a similar configuration to Lingfield.

He's unlikely to beat Ornate to the lead in this but he is comfortable just tracking the pace, tactics employed when he won at Wolverhampton in November. He’ll be better placed than most here, is in the form of his life and only has 4lbs to find with the second highest rated runner. He’s also fit having run all winter and he could be the main threat to Moss Gill.

Ornate

The likely front runner in this is the shortest priced runner who has actually run here at Lingfield. He hasn’t won in three runs here but he did get within a short head of victory over course and distance in December off a rating of 95. He ran less well here last month though and was also below par when sent off favourite at Southwell last time out, a course at which he is a three time winner.

He's closely matched with Royal Birth on both his previous two runs here but doesn’t seem good enough right now or in good enough form to pose a real threat. At best he’s a back to lay option but if Lord Riddiford pesters him on the front end he probably wouldn’t even appeal even for trading purposes.

Royal Birth

The only course winner in the field and the winner of this race all the way back in 2017. The 10yo isn’t quite at that level anymore but he’s still a relatively consistent performer having chalked up two more wins here at the turn of the year, taking his Lingfield tally up to five wins from thirteen at this trip.

He was put in his place at this level recently but that was over 6f, a distance he has never excelled over. Another point to note is the horse’s record for Richard Kingscote.

The horse has finished 1st once and 2nd twice from four 5f runs under this pilot. He needs to improve on his recent form by several pounds to win this but his form in this race does read 1522 over the past four years and he’s entitled to outrun his odds. He’s more than capable of finishing 3rd in this but with only 7 runners he still doesn’t appeal as an each way option.

Belle Anglaise

The youngest runner in the field and the only female meaning she gets a useful 5lbs from the others. She’s rated 90 so does have to improve but not by as much as the ratings might suggest. Is she capable of running beyond 90 though?

She hasn’t run in this country since her 2yo campaign where she was last seen being well beaten in the Oh So Sharp Stakes over 7f. She’s since been running in Germany but she failed to get her head in front as a 3yo. Her only win came on her only start on an all weather surface (at Chelmsford) so the return to polytrack is definitely an interesting angle but this will be her first run at the minimum distance so in all probability she’ll be seen to best effect in the coming months over a little further on this kind of surface.

The Verdict

Moss Gill looks the most likely winner of this race but doesn’t appeal in the slightest as a single at the price given there are some doubts, notably fitness and record away from York.

Lord Riddiford is the solid but unspectacular choice from the plum draw. He’d be a pretty decent each way bet with an extra runner in here and three places on offer but looks less interesting with just two places on offer. Therefore the best option may be a small single on Lord Riddiford at a general 7/1 but a slightly largely straight forecast on Moss Gill to win and Lord Riddiford to finish runner up. That bet pays around 9/1 with bet365 at the time of writing.

A braver punter might be willing to add Royal Birth to make up a trifecta but that’s not a bet that will appeal to many for decent stakes, especially with Royal Birth faring slightly unluckily with the draw.

Miss This Lingfield Runner At Your Peril!

The cold snap continues to claim fixtures on a daily basis, even the all weather fixtures, but Lingfield looks highly likely to survive a morning inspection and we’ll go there for Saturday’s preview.

The 3.10pm, run over 10f, will now be shown live on ITV4 thanks to the abandonments of Newbury and Warwick and despite being a relatively lowly class 5 race, that TV coverage should make it a much more popular betting heat than it would have been otherwise.

Pace

Over several distances at Lingfield you see a pace bias towards front runners, is that the case over this distance of ten furlongs?

We do see a slight edge towards those closer to the pace but this distance looks a lot fairer than many others. The win percentages and place percentages favour prominent racers but there isn’t much between front runners and those from mid division which gives the majority of runners a very fair chance.

It’s worth noting that those that are held up are worse off for all metrics so extreme waiting rides around here should be avoided where possible.

Of course the pace of each individual race has a huge bearing on any potential pace biases so the pace map for this race should be examined closely.

There isn’t a whole lot of pace in this race and it’s unlikely to be a well run contest that favours hold up horses. Convertible and Amsby are comfortable racing prominently but neither are habitual front runners so there is every chance that prominent is the most advantaged position in this once again.

Draw

This race is run over the same course and distance as the Winter Derby and the Easter Classic on All Weather Finals Day and in those races a high draw is often talked about as a big negative.

There does seem to be a slight disadvantage for higher drawn runners in this field size. PRB (percentage of rivals beaten) is most likely to flag a draw bias and a figure of 0.48 for high draws compared to 0.51 for both low and middle suggests a small disadvantage but no major concerns.

The win percentage figures for high draw runners are a bit more concerning though, only 4.7% of high drawn winners have won in the data sample compared to a 12.39% win percentage for low draws and a 12.18% win ratio for middle draws. The place percentage uses three times as much as the win percentage figures and things are more even looking at place percentage. High draws place 25.64% of the time and that’s only around 6% lower than low and middle draws (which are once again extremely similar) which backs up the impression that a high draw is a slight disadvantage but not a factor that should be used to completely write off a runner.

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Looking at the individual stall data should give some more insight.

Despite a high draw generally being a slight disadvantage, the worst individual stall as far as PRB is concerned is stall 1 with a PRB of just 0.44. This stall 1 issue is found at other distances too (notably 1 mile) and is possibly down to patiently ridden horses from stall 1 rarely getting a clear run.

The poor results for stall 1 will have an affect on the low draw data so the fact that low draws do well on the whole suggests stalls 2 and 3 should be marked up somewhat. Stall 3 in fact has the best PRB (0.56) ahead of stalls 2, 4 and 6 which all have a PRB of 0.53.

The above image is sorted by PRB3, which combines data from the two adjacent stalls to flatten the curve and remove data anomalies. This suggests that a low to middle draw is ideal as long as you aren’t drawn in stall 1. On the whole though no stall should be considered a coffin box.

Pace And Draw Combination

The pace and draw combination graphics on Geegeez Gold are excellent in showcasing possible hidden advantages and disadvantages.

This particular data set seems to show that being on the outside of the field around Lingfield’s fairly sharp circuit is quite the disadvantage and the reason why higher draws tend to perform less well than low and middle. The fact that front runners and hold up horses seem to be better at overcoming a high draw will be down to those run styles being more likely to get closer to the inside whilst high drawn prominent racers and mid division racers will be forced wide more often than not.

The Runners

We’ll take a look at the runners one by one in their early market order, starting with the most fancied and working our way down to any outsiders.

Stopnsearch

Beaten over course and distance on his last two runs but that doesn’t tell the full story for this lightly raced 4yo. He’s had just the two starts at 10f and he’s been a little unlucky in both. On the first occasion he was beaten less than 2 lengths having endured a bit of a nightmare passage in the straight and he followed that up by being beaten just a short head last time out.

He’s only gone up 2lbs for that last effort, which is probably fair given it didn’t look the strongest of contests. He wasn’t seen to best effect off a slow gallop but the likely front runner in this race is the same horse that made the running in his last race so he’s unlikely to get a stronger pace to chase this time around.

He’s clearly a leading contender on his last two runs and should go well again.

Convertible

Hugo Palmer does well with headgear changes and he seems to have found the key now with the tongue tie and visor combination for the previously inconsistent Convertible. He set a steady gallop last time out when 3rd behind Stopnsearch, a horse he also faced on his penultimate start too when he was a slightly fortunate half length ahead of that rival on that occasion.

He was beaten absolutely fair and square last time when getting the run of the race and assuming he gave his full running that day his chance of reversing form probably rides on Ryan Moore getting a better tune out of the horse. He’s capable of running well again but makes less appeal than Stopnsearch, even at the bigger price. Stall 1 may also be a slight concern.

Capla Crusader

Seemed to step up last time out when winning, switching from extreme hold up tactics to making all. He's a possible pace angle again here despite what the pace map tells us having run so well with those tactics employed. That was his second run for a new trainer that day and it seems everything came together.

He very much stole that race by kicking into the bend and although previously rated 9lbs higher he never went close off those higher marks and a 7lb rise for that last win, which probably flattered him a little, might well be enough to find him out. He may be able to get an easy lead once again though.

Avorisk Et Perils

A dual course winner, representing Gary Moore, a trainer who has been in excellent form over the winter. On his latest start he finished half a length in front of Capla Crusader and is now 6lbs better off. Capla Crusader clearly improved from first run to second run for his new trainer but that’s an important form line to note. What’s even more interesting is that Capla Crusader wasn’t the only winner to come out of that race. The winner and the 3rd both won next time out as well plus the runner up was a half length 2nd on his next start. That’s clearly hot handicap form and Avorisk Et Peril was held up in his run a couple of times so can be marked up a little too.

He’s run well here on several occasions and had various excuses for some poor runs here too. He’s run twice over course and distance off this mark, winning one of those and running very well in the aforementioned hot handicap last time. He’s clearly capable off this mark here and could represent plenty of each way value.

Stall 8 isn’t completely ideal and he wouldn’t want to find himself too far back but he’s sat in mid division often enough (including last time out) to suggest that’s how he’ll be ridden in this. Hopefully he doesn’t find himself caught on the outside of runners.

Amsby

Handicap debutant Amsby is the big unknown in this. His first two runs came here at Lingfield and they included a one length 2nd to Group One Power. That horse was competitive off marks in the low 80s last season but those runs were over middle distances and he gave Amsby a beating giving him 7lbs over a mile so Amsby looks only fairly treated off 69 based on that form.

Amsby wasn’t seen for 291 days before being beaten 13 lengths at Kempton in December. That was a decent enough contest but he still ran below par and does need to improve to be competitive off this mark now.

Capriolette

A consistent mare on the all weather that brings course form figures of 1344 into this. She’s been defeated on all three tries over this course and distance but they all came off higher marks in races that have worked out fairly well so it can’t really be said she doesn’t stay (she’s placed over a furlong further at Kempton). She also probably had too much use made of her on her latest run here.

There is plenty of form in the book that suggests she’s very capable of winning off this sort of mark and her ability to run well over a mile could be of use here if there isn’t much early pace. The cheekpieces she’s worn on her last two starts are left off but she’s run well plenty of times without headgear so that’s no real concern.

She’s overpriced here at around 10/1 at the time of writing but looks more of a place only bet in this company.

Aztec Dreams

Second run after a wind op and a 438 day break. Given that break this 8yo ran really well in 5th over course and distance last time out, beaten less than three lengths. It’s difficult to know what to make of his previous French form or how much he’ll improve for his latest outing but he’s not without a chance in this. He will need to improve on his comeback run though.

Bealach

Probably Gary Moore’s second string in this, Bealach went from racing over 12f on polytrack to racing over 1m on fibresand on his stable debut last time out. It’s therefore no real surprise he was an 18 lengths last in that race. This contest will tell us more about his well being but even if he bounces back to form, 10f round here off a slow early pace will probably still be too sharp. One to watch with a view to possibly backing next time out when going up in trip again.

Compass Point

A surprise winner two starts ago over course and distance but far less convincing last time when well beaten behind Capla Crusader. He’s dropped just 1lb for that and would need to run better than his recent win to take this so he’s opposable even if bouncing back to form.

Decompartmentalize

He hadn’t shown much in Ireland before moving to Pat Phelan and he continued that trend when last and well beaten on handicap debut for his new trainer last time out at Kempton at 100/1. Huge odds again here and with good reason.

Verdict

Capriolette is interesting and capable of taking a slightly weaker race than this but this might be a little competitive for her.

Stopnsearch is the obvious one with few negatives and if Covertible and Capla Crusader were to compete for the lead that might set things up nicely for him. He’s short enough in the early betting though.

The one who makes most appeal is Averisk Et Perils at around 10/1 early. I’m a big fan of ‘hot form’ and his latest effort certainly fits that profile with three next time out winners and a next time out runner up from the first six finishers. He’s won off this mark, over this course and distance and if able to get a decent early position he should have as much chance of winning this as the favourite, at much bigger odds and an each way price. There is a fair chance he finds himself wider than ideal though which could be enough to cost him victory.

Lingfield May Bring Out The Best In Intuitive In Mile Handicap

With so many national hunt meetings being lost to the weather at the moment it seems best to play it safe this weekend with an all weather preview. Fortunately there is a good card at Lingfield including a class 2 handicap over a mile and that is going to be the subject of this preview.

Pace

It’s typically an advantage to be nearer the pace at most courses and that’s certainly the case over this course and distance in this kind of field size.

Leaders at Lingfield over a mile have been profitable to follow blind, producing a WIN PL of 38.22. Win percentage, place percentage and IV all steadily drop off the further back in the field you go which is a clear sign that the nearer you are to the pace here the better.

Although hold up horses have a poor record here with a win percentage of 10.1% and a place percentage of 30.01%, in terms of bare figures they provide almost as many winners as any other run style and more places than any other run style (from more runners admittedly). So although seemingly disadvantaged by the course, the frame will often contain at least one or two hold up performers. There are certain hold up horses that are particularly suited to Lingfield, those speedy ones with a great turn of foot, as opposed to the grinders that prefer big fields and long straights. If you can distinguish between the two you can find the better bets amongst those likely to be ridden patiently.

Just as important as the course pace characteristics is the pace of the individual race.

This certainly shouldn’t be run at a crawl with the likes of Papa Stour and Corazon Espinado in the field. The pair were both ridden with a little more restraint last time out but had led on their previous three racecourse appearances.

Fox Power has led in the past but not for over a year. He is consistently ridden handily these days and a repeat of those tactics looks likely.

Crownthorpe and Intuitive look likely to be at the rear of the field early with both tending to held up in the majority of their races.

Draw

I studied some Lingfield one mile handicaps earlier in the all weather season and came to the conclusion there was no strict draw bias over this distance. In 8 runner fields, according to PRB (Percentage of Rivals Beaten), there is a very slight disadvantage to the middle draws and seemingly an even smaller advantage with those that break from the higher stalls, despite those runners having to track across to the rail before the bend.

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The win percentages suggest low is slightly better than high (middle still at a slight disadvantage) whilst the place percentages, which give us more data than the win percentages, increase slightly the higher you are drawn.

Overall there is very little in it and if there is a draw bias, it is negligible.

Pace and Draw Combination

Just because there is no strict draw bias it doesn’t mean that certain run styles aren’t advantaged or disadvantaged by the draw. What is a good draw for some run styles can often be a disadvantage for others.

The above tells us that the draw doesn’t make much difference for front runners, prominent racers or even hold up performers but it does make a lot of difference for those that race in mid division. It could just be a fluke of data (although we have a decent sample size here using PRB) and low drawn mid division horses seem to have a good record with a PRB of 0.57 whereas high drawn mid division has a PRB of just 0.38. It is probably the case that high drawn runners are able to get closer to the rail with other run styles but are forced to take a wider course and cover more ground if they are both wide drawn and settle in mid division.

The Runners

With just 8 runners set to go to post we can have a good look at the chances of each runner. Here they are in order of their early odds, from most fancied to least fancied.

Intuitive

This is probably the horse the race revolves around. He’s looked a bit of an all weather specialist to date with defeats on all four of his turf starts but a record of 11321133 on UK all weather surfaces (was also unplaced on dirt in Dubai).

Those form figures look even more impressive when you look at the defeats. The first two came just behind Alkaraama who has since rated 17lbs and 14lbs higher than those two runs. The most recent defeats came behind the progressive Ghlayoon when Intuitive was poorly placed and also behind the hat trick completing Misty Grey. What makes that last performance look all the better is that Intuitive was once again poorly placed but ran on well into 3rd after having to be switched and the 2nd, 4th and 8th from that race have all come out and won since.

There is no doubt that Intuitive remains a well handicapped horse but this will be his first run at a mile and simply staying on late over 7f isn’t enough to prove that this trip will suit. The horse’s sire, Haatef, has a win strike rate of 9.69% with all his flat runners and that drops only slightly to 8.51% over this mile trip. The dam was a 7.5f winner and the only other offspring from her has run well as a 2yo over 7f so there are plenty of pointers that suggests this mile trip should be within his reach, especially with Lingfield being a speed favouring track.

Fox Power

A very brief look at Fox Power’s form figures over the past year or two might not suggest he has a favourite’s chance in this but digging deeper shows he’s probably a well handicapped horse.

He hasn’t won since taking a listed contest at Newcastle in April 2019 but he’s clearly had a couple of issues since and seems to be working his way back to form again. After that listed win he was off the track for 237 days before finishing a 1.5 lengths 4th at Chelmsford off a mark of 100. He had the run of the race that day but it was a respectable effort.

Between that run and March he would race three more times, running okay in defeat each time but not looking like a winner waiting to happen off a mark of 99 or 100.

He would then spend another 102 days off the track before reappearing in the Royal Hunt Cup at Royal Ascot, a race in which he was well beaten. He was then well beaten again twice over 10f on turf before finishing 4th off a mark of 94 over the extended 9f at Wolverhampton. The 2nd and 3rd have both won off higher marks since then and Fox Power was closer to the pace than ideal that day so he’s not badly handicapped now off 93.

The main problem for Fox Power may be the surface. On turf he has failed to win in seven attempts, on polytrack he has failed to place in two runs whilst on tapeta his form figures are 131244. His only run at Lingfield was at 7f and although he was only beaten just 2.25 lengths he was last of six runners having gone through the race well but finding disappointingly little. He’s unlikely to run terribly but he looks a better horse on tapeta and could be much more interesting in the Lincoln Trial at Wolverhampton in a couple of months’ time (a race in which he was 4th off 6lbs higher last year) rather than this.

Corazon Espinado

A change to slightly more patient tactics and a drop in class seemed to pay dividends last time out when winning a class 5 handicap by 5 lengths. He won a class 3 handicap a year ago off 85 so isn’t necessarily out of it here off 87 but this is likely to be much tougher off a career high mark (he’s been beaten on all six runs off 86 or 87). He is previously proven over this distance but with this being a furlong further than last time, three classes higher and his mark being 9lbs higher he’s no guarantee to run to the same level again.

A major positive for the horse is his record when running within 10 days of his previous run. He’s won three from four in those circumstances and on that basis should be considered at least very competitive here, for all he might not be handicapped to win.

Crownthorpe

A last time out winner at Southwell and at his best on soft ground or on the all weather. His latest win was off 90 and he’s won off 91 in the past but he’s been beaten in all seven runs off 92 or higher.

The surface is clearly very important to this horse and it was no great surprise that he took to Southwell’s fibresand last time out given his liking for deep ground. Ignoring a run at Newcastle where his jockey fell off exiting the stalls, his all weather form figures now read 332131. However his two biggest losses, distance wise, have come in his two starts at Lingfield where he has finished 3rd twice in fields of seven and five (beaten 3.25 lengths or further in both races).

As previously mentioned Lingfield can suit those turn of foot horses rather than grinders and Crownthorpe may be a bit more of a grinder, less suited to Lingfield than other venues. He’s not terribly handicapped but this course and handicap mark may well catch him out with third or fourth place seeming most likely here.

Lord Rapscallion

One of two here for Stuart Williams and perhaps surprising that he is slightly more favoured early than his stablemate Papa Stour.

Lord Rapscallion will be having just his second start for Williams having moved from Johnny Murtagh in November. On his stable debut he ran a respectable 4th in a Kempton listed contest at 50/1, although given the distances he was beaten by horses rated 105, 109 and 104 he didn’t look to run beyond his mark of 102. He was 2nd in Ireland in a competitive 7f handicap in September off 101 but it's worth noting that the majority of his best runs during the flat season (where he rose 14lbs in the ratings) were under a strong partnership with rider Nikita Kane who had a huge claim. He’s probably never run to a three figure rating for any other jockey and without a claim here he could be vulnerable, for all he has the talents of Cieren Fallon on board.

Papa Stour

Papa Stour is the main pace angle here and he’s seemingly a bit better on polytrack than he is on tapeta (last four runs on polytrack have produced form figures of 1112, last four runs on tapeta have produced form figures of 6628) so Lingfield may well suit him on his debut here. He is probably at his very best around Chelmsford though which suits his front running style extremely well.

His recent form has been strong. He won three starts ago at Kempton off a 3lb lower mark, beating a next time out winner in Diocles Of Rome, so he’s not handicapped out of this off 91. He’s probably vulnerable to something a bit more progressive but there is absolutely no reason why he shouldn’t run very well, especially if Corazon Espinado allows him an uncontested lead.

Mohareb

Possibly equally good at 6f and 7f which does raise some question marks over the suitability of 1m on just his 2nd attempt at the distance (previous go was his 2nd start on a racecourse when finishing 4th in a novice race). He was a couple of lengths ahead of Intuitive behind Ghalyoon at Chelmsford in November and is now 1lb better off but Mohareb was seen to much better effect that day than Intuitive and isn’t as likely to back that up over the extra distance, for all there are stamina doubts over Intuitive too.

He was below par last time out here at Lingfield and although he is probably in with a small chance here, and may well out run his odds, it would be a surprise if he’s well enough handicapped or strong enough in the finish over this trip to get his head in front.

Mission Bay

Difficult to weigh up on his debut for Marco Botti having previously raced in Italy. A mark of 100 does seem fairly stiff for what he has recently achieved and he’s probably going to need to drop a bit in the handicap before being competitive.

Verdict

Given the doubts about Fox Power and Crownthorpe on this surface I’m inclined to think the win shortlist should be Intuitive, Corazon Espinado and Papa Stour. I don’t think the latter is well enough handicapped to win this but his record with a very recent run is worrying if looking to oppose him.

Intuitive and Papa Stour definitely look better handicapped and if going off the pace data you’d be much more inclined to back Papa Stour, who is likely to lead, rather than Intuitive who is likely to be settled in last. However Intuitive looks to have the turn of foot that will make him ideally suited to this course and he’s likely to be a fast finisher in the straight. He’s unproven both at Lingfield and at a mile so is risky at the price but there is more upside to this one than anything else and two and those question marks may well still turn out to be positives rather than negatives. Intuitive therefore gets the nod for a small bet ahead of Papa Stour who still has another handicap in him and Corazon Espinado who is probably best of those who have raced at Lingfield before.