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Indianapolis Overpriced In Newbury Staying Handicap

Hardly a vintage weekend of racing, even with the Irish Oaks taking place at the Curragh, and personally speaking the only live heat to make any betting appeal is the 2 mile handicap at Newbury, due off at 2.25pm.

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Draw

Draw advantages often diminish over longer trips, is there anything in the draw over 2 miles at Newbury though?

Only a small sample size here so the win percentages are of little to no interest. The place percentages suggest low is advantageous with a place percentage of 28.57% compared to 17.78% for middle and 23.81% for high.

The PRB data should be a bit more reliable in a small sample than place data and that again suggests low is best of all but the PRB is only 0.51 with middle next best at 0.50 and high showing up at 0.48.

There seems no real trend looking at the individual stall data so it seems safe to assume it’s a pretty level playing field as far as the draw is concerned.

Pace

It’s going to be another small sample but does the data suggest any sort of pace bias here?

The lack of depth to the data suggests we shouldn’t get carried away here but what data there is does imply that patiently ridden runners could have an advantage. That’s not a massive surprise given Newbury has a long straight which should allow most runners time to get a clear run and time to get fully wound up.

Mid division comes out best in terms of place percentages and comfortably so with this run style generating a place strike rate of 35.71%. Next best is held up at 24% which isn’t too far ahead of prominent at 20.59%. Front runners have performed worst of all at 9.09%.

All other things being equal it may well pay to support something coming from the rear half of the field in this.

Pace Map

Let’s take a look at the pace map for this contest.

There isn’t a lot of pace forecast for this race with Withhold, a previous winner of this race, likely to get a fairly comfortable time of things up front. Mildenberger and Call My Bluff seem most likely to apply pressure but both are likely to be content tracking the pace.

With a pretty steady gallop here much of the course bias pace data could go out of the window. It certainly seems that runners that appreciate a strong test of stamina could be inconvenienced with the speedier stayers perhaps the ones to concentrate on.

The Runners

Here are all thirteen runners, in early odds order.

Zeeband

Still very lightly raced and comfortable winner of the Northumberland Plate consolation race a few weeks ago. He’s gone up 8lbs for that but the step up to two miles for the first time brought about a career best and that was also his first run in a visor, which is retained here.

He clearly has the potential to rate higher but it’s worth noting that Zeeband’s best turf runs have come with a fair amount of cut in the ground and it’s likely to be on the fast side of good here. He does seem to have a nice blend of speed and stamina so if the ground is fine a bold show should be expected.

Rodrigo Diaz

Another lightly raced improver who has been better than ever this season. He was unbeaten in handicaps last season, finishing the season with a victory over 14f at Wolverhampton. All of those wins came on the all weather but he’s proved just as good on turf this season, finding only the progressive Aaddeey too good at Newmarket before winning at Doncaster. He beat the improving Duke Of Condicote that day (now 8lbs higher) with a bit to spare so should be capable of defying a 7lb higher mark.

With that in mind it was disappointing he was only 3rd off a 6lb higher mark next time out back at Kempton. He wasn’t ideally placed that day and looked as though going back up to 14f would help but it’s interesting connections have persisted with 12f races after he won at 14f, possibly suggesting they don’t see him as real a stayer. This might not be a thorough test of stamina though and he should still be on a mark he can win off.

Withhold

Won this two years ago and could get an easy lead here. His win in this came off a mark of 107 and he rated as high as 113 but some lacklustre efforts this season have seen him drop to a mark of 105.

Most of last season’s form would give him a decent shout, he got within a length of Trueshan at Salisbury and Trueshan went on to win impressively at Group 2 level. This season though he was beaten 62 lengths at Chester and 17.5 lengths in listed company at Sandown in a race he had previously won. On the form of those runs he has no chance here and he needs more than just an easy lead to bounce back. One to watch in the market as he’s been well backed before victory in the past but difficult to back him with much faith.

Margaret Dumont

Seemed to improve for a switch to artificial surfaces this season for Hugo Palmer having raced exclusively on turf last season for Mark Johnston. She looks a very thorough stayer and ran a good 2nd to Zeeband last time out at Newcastle. Her sole run this season on turf saw her beat 60 lengths though and fast turf was blamed for that defeat so that has to be a concern here.

She did run okay a couple of times on fast ground last season but even that form gives her plenty to find here off a higher mark. She’s not without a chance if transferring that all weather form to turf but on all known turf form she’s very opposable.

Scaramanga

In good form over hurdles earlier this year and a flat rating of 86 does look exploitable compared to a hurdle rating of 151. An 86 day absence isn’t necessarily a concern given he won here over hurdles in March off a 146 day break.

He’s yet to win in ten flat runs though. His form on softer ground can be thrown out as he wants fast ground and his flat form figures on fast ground or the all weather since joining current connections reads 2432. Appeals more as a place only bet if this race has been the plan for him but backing him to win this is a bit of a leap given he’s been so expensive to follow on the flat.

Call My Bluff

Progressive stayer who may be slightly better on turf than artificial surfaces. His form at this trip or further on turf reads 11211 with the one defeat coming against Main Line who was winning his eighth straight race (all codes).

He won by just a neck last time out at Chester and is 3lbs higher here, possibly suggesting the handicapper is catching up with him. He’s probably still well handicapped on soft ground but the major concern here has to be the ground. He’s been pulled out twice this season because of good or good to firm ground and his only run on fast ground to date resulted in a defeat off a 23lbs lower mark.

Just Hubert

Thorough stayer who was 7th in this last year off a 2lb lower mark before winning the 2m4f handicap at Glorious Goodwood. His two best runs in the past year have both come at Goodwood and perhaps he needs a track like that to keep him interested as he seems too slow at most other venues these days. First time cheekpieces go on in a clear attempt to perk him up and they may have the desired effect, but they could just as easily have an adverse effect.

Mildenberger

Rated higher on the all weather than turf and rightly so but is capable of some smart performances on grass. He was 2nd to Roaring Lion in the 2018 Dante Stakes and 3rd in the 2019 Jockey Club Stakes at Newmarket. He perhaps hasn’t improved going up in trip on turf like he has on artificial surfaces though and he was a disappointing favourite last time out in the Esher Stakes, for all the ground might have been slightly too slow on that occasion. His turf form at distances further than 12f suggest he’ll do well to win this off 106.

Sleeping Lion

A capable stayer whose last win came off a 7lb lower mark at Kempton in April. A 7lb rise for that win seems harsh and so it proved at Royal Ascot when Sleeping Lion was well beaten, albeit poorly placed. He’s generally struggled to put two good runs together since his 3yo win here three years ago and is therefore rarely a strong betting proposition. When he’s good, he’s very good but not one to put too much faith in and this is a tough task off this mark.

Indianapolis

Without a win since 2019 but finally getting some respite from the handicapper. His form from this time last year would give him a good chance in this – he was 3rd to reliable yardstick Hochfeld over 14f and then 4th in a 17 runner handicap at York, both efforts coming off 10lb higher marks.

This season he showed very little in three runs having moved to Ian Williams in March but last time out he was much better, only 4th of 9 at Ascot but beaten just 2 lengths. Even two runs ago he was only 3.5 lengths being the favourite here Zeeband and he’s now 12lbs better off. There was money for him last time out so an improvement was clearly expected and it will be interesting to see if that money comes again here.

Mancini

Another that improved last time out on some previously lifeless runs this season. Mancini’s last two wins have come off this mark, in 2019 over 2m on fast ground and in 2020 over 14f on fast ground. Every drying moment will be music to connection’s ears. The big doubt is the field size though. All his six wins have come in single digit field sizes, in bigger fields he is 0 from 13.

Global Heat

Improved for a step up to 14f as recently as February, going down just a short head in a Meydan Group 3. He shaped as though worth a try over further that day but didn’t cut any ice behind Subjectivist in the Dubai Gold Cup at that distance. On his return to the UK he was pulled up in testing conditions in the Queen Alexandra Stakes at Royal Ascot. It’s probably not best to judge him on that latest effort and he still has scope as a stayer but he’s rated 105 here, is so far unproven at this distance and has some well being questions to answer so he’s not easy to back.

Lucky Deal

After missing 18 months of action he worked his way back to form, winning twice on the all weather either side of the new year. He continued in good form on artificial surfaces but has struggled since on turf. The handicapper hasn’t shown much leniency dropping him just 4lbs for a combined losing distance of over 63 lengths. Blinkers haven’t brought about any improvement and connections now reach for a visor. He’s becoming well handicapped and will bounce back at some point but is difficult to back on current form and needs a real test of stamina to be at his absolute best.

The Verdict

A slightly disappointing turnout for this race with many of these having questions to answer. Zeeband and Rodrigo Diaz are clearly the progressive ones in the field but the former has some ground doubts and doesn’t look worth risking at the price whilst the latter has to prove his stamina. Backing horses going up in distance can be a great angle but he doesn’t look to be crying out for two miles.

It’s probably worth taking a chance on INDIANAPOLIS each way at around 16/1 (most bookies paying 4 places). Ian Williams won this last year at a similar price and this runner is well handicapped on last season’s form, giving hints he was returning to something near his best last time out. He’s capable of racing prominently which might be an advantage with a lack of strong page in this and his form over shorter distances could be an advantage if this turns into a bit of a sprint finish.

Withhold seems unbackable on current form, Margaret Dumont is probably better on the all weather, Scaramanga has been expensive to follow and is yet to win on the flat whilst Call My Bluff would prefer softer ground. The majority of the fancied runners aren’t guaranteed to give their running so Indianapolis has an excellent chance of placing at the very least.