Matt in again for Monday's Racing Insights; Sam will be in the chair early next week before Chris's return in the second half of the week: something for everyone then!
Monday’s free feature of the day is the Pace tab available for ALL races. This tab is a pivotal piece of my form study as the shape of the race, in exposed form handicaps especially, is just about the most crucial factor.
Monday's free races of the day are:
2.05 Newton Abbot
I'm going slightly off road on this occasion, and placing my head in the lion's mouth somewhat, as we head to the first day of the Galway Festival and a seemingly inscrutable seven furlong handicap, due off at 5.15.
Let's start with a bit of context, specifically the track configuration. Checking out our Galway Course Guide, and indeed any of our course guides, is a smart idea if you want to understand any nuances over a given track/trip combination.
Here, we can see that the seven furlong distance has not one but two tight turns before the rise to the lollipop. It will hardly be the biggest shock in the world, then, to discover that outside drawn horses have been at a significant disadvantage, particularly when the ground has been on the quicker side. Looking at the rolling three-stall Percentage of Rivals Beaten (PRB3) chart illustrates that really well, as does the draw / run style heat map.
As I write, the favourite is drawn 16 and will need to be miles ahead of her mark to score from there.
We can see from the above that high and/or held up is not the style for this job which, while not making winner-finding a shoo in, does make for some credible shortlisting.
What is interesting is that, on recent evidence at least, nobody wants to press on with things. However, looking at the data display might offer a clue.
Now we can see that Fridtjof Nansen, the well drawn second favourite, has led in his most recent two races. Two stalls inside him, the handicap debutant Yester has also led in his last two. And Ola Bonita, that aforementioned favourite, led last time but has trap 16.
So there is likely to be a good early gallop and it might be considered a surprise, to me at least, if neither Yester nor Fridtjof Nansen is leading into the first turn.
What else do we know? Below is the Instant Expert, on place view and showing all races handicap or not, and I've opened the course form row for FN:
I've also hovered over the race title so that you can see it was this race last year. There, Fridtjof had a double digit draw on soft ground. He didn't lead but raced prominently, and wasn't beaten far in a very respectable fifth of 13. Therein lies a bit of an issue with FN, which is illustrated perfectly from this snapshot of Full Form:
One win from 39 starts. One. From thirty-nine. Ouch! He does have an admirable place strike rate and, I think, will go well for a long way from his optimal draw/run style setup.
Yester has to be worth a second look, too. Making his handicap debut here, he's led over a mile the last twice before fading into sixth and fourth in the final furlong. This drop in trip looks right and he's completely unexposed. Trainer David Nagle has a middling record with 'cap debs but did have a sixth placed finish with such a runner over this course and distance at the 2013 Galway Festival, his only handicap first timer to run at the track.
It was all change for Ola Bonita last time as she was upped in trip for a different jockey and a change of run style. Shane Crosse led on her there, where Andrew Slattery - back aboard here - had generally bided his time on her theretofore. The fact is, if Slattery tries to get the lead from his wide post he's going to burn fuel, and if he rides for luck he's probably not going to get it.
Kodiqueen is another with a good draw in four. She has been a five- and six-furlong winner and only raced at this trip twice, finishing third on one of those occasions. With that sprint speed, she's another likely to be handy into the first turn and, if she travels kindly enough in the tongue tie she wore when winning two back, she could hang tough at the finish.
We can see from Instant Expert that top weight Royal Pippin has failed to make the frame in his seven big field races. Indeed, he's failed to make the frame in twelve of his 13 lifetime starts, winning the other one (on heavy ground, quick side of good here). Mind you, he's not been too far away plenty of times and stall nine wouldn't be insurmountable. He's another who might need miracle splits to open up given his midfield / hold up style.
Coil Na Sionnaine has a more compelling form profile but a car park draw in 18, while Godhead has a pleasing win record (3 from 14) for all that they were for his former trainer. Nevertheless, his jockey Gavin Ryan rides the track really well and the horse has dropped to a stone below his high water mark. Chance.
Maud Gonne Spirit, Earls, Excuzio Joe and Mary Salome all have double figure draws which may not stop them winning, but probably will.
High Altitude has had a million goes - well, 42 actually - and won five times. His wins have all been at a mile and four of them were at Killarney, which leans the other way though is not dissimilar in constitution, direction aside. All of his wins have come in August, which it nearly is, and he might nearly add to his tally here.
Turbine is quite a big price given his form: he was a seven furlong winner on good ground in a big field at Leopardstown last June and ran well for a long way in a weaker race over a mile at Killarney last month. He has a ten pound claiming rider, generally races prominently and is drawn in stall three. 20/1+ understates his credentials in my view.
If second reserve Silverkode snuck in he'd be a player given stall one and a very consistent place record over seven furlongs. His hold up style would mean supporters should assume the prayer mat position in transit, however.
A bigly field and competitive, as 6/1 your pick relates. But it is not total folly to biff anything with a double figure draw, and to ignore hold up types. That would reduce the maximum field of 16 to around half a dozen, my shortlist being High Altitude, Turbine, Kodiqueen, Yester, Fridtjof Nansen and Godhead. Wherever I turn from here, if I haven't already eliminated the winner, I'm very likely to do that now!
This race has been won in the last ten years by horses drawn 1-7-9-1-4-14-2-5-4-5. And winners have returned 25/1, 20/1, 14/1 and 10/1 twice during that decade, so it's certainly reasonable to have a swing.
Looking at the prices, Turbine is worth a tiny win only bet at 25/1; Yester may be an each way dart at 20's. I'm not quite convinced Kodiqueen will see out the seventh eighth (if you catch my drift), and Fridtjof Nansen has a horror win record though is undoubtedly well treated on all of form, ratings and race setup. Galway is about gambling and Guinness, so perhaps Gavin on Godhead for Ado McGuinness is a hint we should take. He too can be played each way.
I'll be combining those six in ambitious micro stakes exactas and even more wildly aspirational trifectas. Probably should add a "don't try this at home" warning here, but we're all grown ups so please yourself! 😉