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Grounds For Concern For Leading Superior Mile Runner

There are plenty of big handicaps on Saturday and we also have Group 1 action so it should be a great day for betting whatever your race type preference. This week I’m going to look at another one mile Group race, having previewed the Celebration Mile last week at Goodwood. This week it's the Group 3 Superior Mile (1.45pm) at Haydock.

I’ll be using Instant Expert once again for this race but it’s worth noting that there are some more lightly raced types in this race compared to last week which means there will be a few more unknowns.

The Going

The ground is going to be a hugely important factor here with underfoot conditions currently described as soft, heavy in places on Friday afternoon. It’s due to be a dry weekend so we’ll probably be look at soft ground all over.

To get as much data into Instant Expert as possible I’m going to include data from ground described anywhere between good to soft and heavy.

Superior Mile Instant Expert

A few things initially stand out here. First of all Dark Vision has failed to place in all four starts on softish ground. He’d have half a chance on his best form but it looks as though a line can be put through this runner when there is cut in the ground.

Khaloosy and Kinross both have both encountered softer ground once and they both won those races.

Stormy Antarctic and Qaysar have both had plenty of experience in these kinds of conditions and both have strong records. Stormy Atlantic has placed in six of his eight runs on ground ranging from good to soft to heavy whilst Qaysar is three from five as far as placing is concerned. The pair both have three wins when the mud is flying.

The well fancied My Oberon and Top Rank are yet to run on softer than good whilst outsider Graignes is also an unknown as far as the ground is concerned.

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For those that are yet to run on softer ground we can get an insight into their suitability for testing conditions by using Instant Expert to look at sire data.

Superior Mile Sire Stats

Stormy Atlantic (Stormy Antarctic), Kingman (Kinross) and Dubawi (Khaloosy & My Oberon) all score well here and those sire stats aren’t contradicted by what we have seen from these offspring so far which is great. Comparatively the offspring of Dark Angel perform fairly poorly so Top Rank is far from guaranteed to enjoy these conditions.

Class

My Oberon has run once and placed once in class 1 races. Stormy Antarctic is by far the most experienced of these at this level with fourteen runs and six places. Dark Vision has two places from six attempts in class 1 races so he’s had plenty of tries at this sort of level without much success. Another strike against that runner.

Qaysar and Top Rank both step up in class whilst Khaloosy has failed to place in his only run in a class 1 with Kinross failing to place in two attempts in class 1 races.

Course

Not much course form on offer here but a big tick for Qaysar who has placed in two runs from three here. Both of those places were actually victories.

Distance

Top Rank has been most consistent at a mile to date, placing in all five starts, which we know were all at a lower level than this. At the other end of the scale Kinross and Qaysar have not been as consistent at this trip.

Field Size

Top Rank and Khaloosy have both placed in their sole start in fields of this sort of size. We have much more data for Stormy Antarctic, Qaysar and Dark Vision who are clearly comfortable in these mid sized fields.

A Look At The Form

We have plenty of question marks still as we only have limited data for the more lightly raced contenders.

Doubts Over Top Rank and Kinross Justified?

Top Rank and Kinross are two runners who are on the brink of having a line put through them based on the results from Instant Expert. Top Rank was beaten by a length in a handicap off a mark of 103 last time out. He’s now rated 106 which leaves him with 8lbs to find on the top rated runner here. He is lightly raced so may still improve but he’ll need to do so on ground he’s unproven on so comes with plenty of risk attached for a 6/1 chance.

Kinross has form on this sort of ground but it’s difficult to weight up as it was a wide margin maiden win. He did beat the now 97 rated Raaeb by 8 lengths (in receipt of 6lbs) so it was a smart effort on that occasion. His two runs this season have come in Group 1 company and he hasn’t been totally disgraced, especially as those runs came on faster ground. He’ll need to improve for the return to this ground though and he’s as yet unproven in ground quite this soft so backers are taking plenty of chances.

The Shortlist

There is little form that suggests Graignes is going to win this and the ground looks against Dark Vision so we are currently left with:

Khaloosy
My Oberon
Stormy Antarctic
Qaysar

First let’s look at the more exposed pair of Stormy Antarctic and Qaysar. Stormy Antarctic has had an official rating between 111 and 114 for the past 4 years which means we should know exactly how good he is. Instant Expert has shown that he is a horse with an okay record in better class races that relishes cut in the ground. On heavy ground he has form figures of 112, on soft ground he has form of 114 and that defeat came at the hands of Roaring Lion in a Group 1. Even on good to soft ground at a mile his form figures are 10222 with that blowout coming in the 2000 Guineas.

He clearly loves this ground but how good is he? He’s the horse to beat according to official ratings, although there are several possible improvers in this line up. He’s won two of his three starts at Group 3 level over a mile. His defeat came earlier this year at the hands of Century Dream. He carried a Group 2 penalty that day (which he doesn’t have to shoulder here) and that was his first start in almost 12 months so 4th was a decent enough effort. At Group 2 level at this trip he has finished 2nd and 3rd and the ground wasn’t quite as soft as he’d like on either occasion. He’s clearly good enough to win this sort of race and will be getting close to ideal conditions here.

Unlike Stormy Antarctic, Qaysar is completely unproven at this level. He’s improved each season though and is rated just 3lbs shy of Stormy Antarctic courtesy of winning a handicap over course and distance on testing ground by 4.25 length off a mark of 105. He’s failed to reproduce that form in two runs since but one of those runs was in a small field conditions race on fast ground and the other was in a York handicap off a mark of 111 and he was well enough beaten on his previous York run off a much lower mark. He’s probably not going to prove much better than his current rating but his best career run came here under similar conditions and a reproduction of that might see him reach the places.

Khaloosy and Oberon actually met last time in a Group 3 at Goodwood and My Oberon was 2.5 lengths in front of Khaloosy. My Oberon was also badly hampered by the winner so was value for further. Whilst My Oberon looked at home on the ground that day Khaloosy looked all at sea with the combination of fast ground and unconventional track clearly against him. Khaloosy is much better judged on his previous effort at Royal Ascot where he won the Britannia Handicap easily. That race has worked out well and beating Finest Sound (now rated 94) giving him 7lbs and a comfortable looking 4.5 length beating means he probably ran to a rating even higher than his current mark of 111 that day.

My Oberon has no soft ground form and although he’s bred to handle it, he’s previously been described by his trainer as ‘a fast ground horse’ so there have to be some reservations. Those same reservations don’t hang over Khaloosy whose sole run in testing conditions was by far his best.

Pace

We all know how important pace can be, especially in these smaller field races that can be run at a crawl on occasions. Here is the pace map for this race based on their last four runs:

Superior Mile Pace Map

As you can see, there doesn’t appear to be much pace in this contest so those that are able to sit handily could be advantaged as could be those who have proven themselves to be a bit ‘speedier’. Stormy Antarctic stays further than this so he’d ideally want a strong test and many of Qaysar’s best efforts have come when held up, although he is tactically versatile. My Oberon has a nice race style for this sort of set up but the question mark over the ground remains. Khaloosy was held up at Ascot but those were the right tactics to employ on the day and he’s been ridden much more prominently in his other runs.

Verdict

Assuming Khaloosy isn’t just much better at Ascot, he deserves another chance here and after just 4 career starts he should be able to improve past the extremely solid yard stick that is Stormy Antarctic. Meanwhile Qaysar isn’t a terrible bet for a place and could fill 3rd spot behind the other pair if things go to plan.

Weekend Racing Preview: Scorching Pace Likely In 7f Handicap

It might not be a vintage day of racing on Saturday but there are plenty of competitive handicaps to get stuck into. One of the more interesting races of the day, which unfortunately won’t be on terrestrial television, is the 7f handicap at Haydock being run at 3.50pm.

Haydock is well known for receiving plenty of rainfall so there is fairly limited data available for handicaps of this field size run on the forecast good to firm ground. When there is limited data the PRB (percentage of rivals beaten) is particularly useful. There isn’t a whole lot in it but it seems preferable to be drawn low or high rather than in the middle over 7f on fast ground at Haydock. Just 15.63% of placed runners have come from the middle third of the draw.

As far as pace advantage over this course and distance is concerned, on fast ground we are again dealing with slightly limited data but it seems anywhere but prominent is ideal for win purposes. Prominent racers have yielded zero winners from 24 runs in qualifying races. The best place to be positioned could be mid division with a level stakes profit of £3.50 for those runners. It’s worth bearing in mind though that win ratios can be misleading with limited data and when looking at the place data for the same qualifying races it’s actually very even and slightly favours those ridden prominently.

Haydock 7f Good to Firm Pace Stats

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One of the best features of Geegeez Gold is the ability to compare both pace and draw simultaneously. The draw pace heat map (using PRB data) for races of these conditions again backs up the assumption that middle draws are less favourable and that a high draw might be more favourable than low unless you are likely to be held up in the rear, in which case low is better than high.

Haydock draw heat map

With no strong data regarding pace advantage it’s best to concentrate on how each individual race is likely to be run and that’s what makes this race more interesting than many on Saturday.

Haydock 7f pace map

With three possible front runners here we are likely to see contested speed and that should swing things in favour of those held up in mid division or the rear. That leaves the entirety of the remaining field with no recognised prominent racers. As previously discussed those drawn in the middle could be seen at a disadvantage which would be bad news for Irreverent, Young Fire, Dutch Decoy and Arbalet, who are drawn 5,6,7 and 8 respectively.

Indian Creak form

Indian Creak's run at Sandown has produced a 0% subsequent win ratio and just a 25% place ratio.

Of those drawn lower, War Glory is drawn lowest of all but has only won once in 30 attempts on turf and probably needs a stiffer test. Indian Creak is drawn in stall 2 but has been well enough beaten in both starts this season and whilst his 7th in a 7f handicap last month at Sandown might look okay form on first inspection, the Geegeez future form display tells us that 11 runners have come out of that race and all been beaten since. Cold Stare completes the low drawn runner list who should be ridden with patience but all his form is on soft ground.

So what about those drawn higher? The remaining runners are Triggered (drawn 9) and Northernpowerhouse (drawn 10). Triggered is likely to be held up in the rear and based on the data we have he would probably have been better off with a low draw assuming the same tactics are used again. He hasn’t been seen to best effect this season and is stepping up to 7f for the first time. He’ll need to improve for the trip to figure but on the way he runs that’s very possible.

Northernpowerhouse seems to have plenty in his favour with a high draw and a fast pace forecast. He is generally held up in mid division rather than right at the rear of the field so has an ideal draw on that basis. He seemed to improve over the winter on the all weather and was clearly not expected to transfer that improvement to turf when sent off a relatively unconsidered 22/1, despite being a last time out winner, at Redcar in June. He proved those odds wrong though with a narrow win. That wasn’t the strongest of contests in hindsight but many of his races have worked out well, particularly his most recent all weather win where he beat five runners who would win on one of their next two starts.

Last time out Northernpowerhouse was beaten 8.5 lengths but he was badly squeezed up on that occasion and whilst he wasn’t going well enough to win that day, he may well have reached the placings. The faster ground here may also be in his favour.