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Racing Insights, 24th March 2021

Tuesday's race didn't quite pan out the way I expected, but it still went well enough to provide with a 5/1 winner. The overnight favourite drifted like a barge and the layers were right about him. Thankfully so were we!

And now to Wednesday, where the 'feature of the day'  is the Trainer Stats report, whilst our 'free races of the day' are...

  • 1.45 Market Rasen
  • 1.55 Tipperary
  • 3.12 Haydock
  • 4.25 Hereford

And the last of that quartet looks quite interesting. Only five are set to go to post for the 4.25 Hereford, but my first impression is that at least four of them could win it! It's only a Class 5 Mares handicap chase over 2m5f on Good ground, but it might be a fascinating encounter at the lower end of the spectrum. Here's how they line up...

Secret Court has yet to make the frame in nine start (2 x NHF, 5 x Hrd, 2 x Chs) and has failed to complete her last three races after unseating her rider on her chase debut at Leicester ahead of a fall at Ludlow. She reverted back to hurdles last time out, possibly to regain a little jumping confidence, but didn't see 2m3.5f, being pulled up before the last hurdle.

Carpool was probably politely described as a modest hurdler at best, after making the frame just three times in a winless 14-race career and was left to run her own race on chase debut last time out. They'd thrown her straight into a Class 3 contest on heavy ground and without really getting involved in the race, finished third of six, but beaten by some 50 lengths. She's down two classes here and should come on for having had the run, but I'm worried that she's already a perennial loser.

Barden Bella made a few jumping errors last time out and eventually fell quite heavily two out in a heavy ground 3m1f contest, having won on her chase debut a month earlier. That win came over 1m7.5f on soft ground at Catterick, so today's contest is in between the two, distance wise and on quicker ground. Her mark is unaltered from last time, but I'm unsure how she'll react to the fall allied to running on quicker ground (good to firm didn't suit her).

Pottlereaghexpress is another yet to win after several attempts, 17 in total! SHe was placed in just 2 of 12 over hurdles, but has finished 3023232 since moving to Toby Lawes yard, the last five of those runs being her chase career to date. Unlike Carpool above, I don't see this as a perennial loser just yet, her form over fences suggests she wouldn't be winning out of turn, but she has been tough to follow from a financial point of view!

Leave My Alone brings the best recent form to the table here, with finishes of 212 in her last three starts. She stays beyond three miles and does most of her racing on mud, so the trip might be a bit sharp for her on quick ground here, but she is the form horse and ran really well to get within three lengths of Ring The Moon last time out.

*

In a race shy of many past victories over fences, I thought it'd be best to consider the Instant Expert in place mode...

Two of the three in green have gone on to win over fences already, but now race off much higher marks, whilst Pottlereaghexpress might be about to win for the first after knocking on the door several times lately.

From a pace perspective, these small-field races can become tactical affairs and whilst leading or racing prominent has proved to be successful here in the past...

...I think we need to tread carefully with the pace map, as three of these five have two chase runs or fewer, but here's how we think they might set out...

Barden Bella has actually led in each of her last two starts, so she'll probably lead them along here ahead of Leave My Alone who seems to always race prominently. Carpool was a fairly prominent racer over hurdles, whilst both Pottlereaghexpress and Secret Court are sure to be waited with.

Summary

There's not a great deal to go off, but I think this is Pottlereaghexpress' best chance of getting off the mark and although Barden Bella might well attempt to set the pace, I think she'll be swallowed up by Leave My Alone, who I fancy to finish second here.

So, it's Pottlereaghexpress at 10/3 to beat Leave My Alone at 3/1 for me here. 

Racing Insights, 13th March 2021

Last one of the week and Saturday's feature of the day is the excellent Trainer/Jockey combo report, whilst our free races are..

  • 1.57 Ayr
  • 2.25 Sandown
  • 2.32 Ayr
  • 4.02 Hereford
  • 6.20 Chelmsford
  • 6.50 Chelmsford

And the one that caught my eye was the Hereford race, because I'm expecting a fairly short priced favourite who might be shorter than he deserves and the race features three from the same yard, no mean feat in a 7-runner contest. It's a Class 3 handicap chase over two miles on Good to Soft (soft in places) ground. trainer Dan Skelton saddles up three of the seven runners aiming for the £6,756 top prize in the 4.02 Hereford...

Solomon Grey was a winner last time out when landing a Class 2, chase at Uttoxeter over 2m4f. He was seven lengths clear at the finish and although up 7lbs to a mark of 140, he has won off this mark in the past. He's likely to be a warm favourite here, but I'm not convinced he won't need the run after 203 days off the track. The last time he had a layoff, he was beaten by 54 lengths after a 167 day absence.

Hatcher is the second of the Skelton trio and was a winner of a Class 2 handicap four starts ago. That was over 2m0.5f at Southwell back in July and he followed that up with respectable runs in defeat at Cheltenham and Newbury in better races over similar trips. He's not been seen, however, since being pulled up at Ludlow almost three months ago, although he does drop in class here.

Pingshou also drops down from Class 2, as he attempts to recapture some of his novice chasing form, where he had a run reading 122 in mid-2019. Sadly he then fell twice in a row, finished last of five before looking a bit better last time out when beaten by 9 lengths over 2m7.5f. The trip might be too sharp for him here.

Hollywoodien won this race a year ago off just 3lbs lower than today, but has only raced twice since. He was off the track for ten months following that win here and returned to run well in third at Sandown at Class 2. He didn't do as well next/last time out though, when beaten by 18 lengths at Wetherby last month and he looked like he'd given up late on.

Financier is a lightly raced 8 yr old making just a tent career start after 3 bumpers and 6 chase outings. His sole success came in a beginners chase at Ludlow in February 2020 and aside from one near-miss at Chepstow, hasn't impressed since with his jumping letting him down on his last two starts.

Marracudja is the third of the Skelton horses, the lowest rated of the three, but with bridget Andrews in the saddle will appear to some to be the yard's number 1 pick, even though the favourite is his stablemate! He was third last time out, beaten by little more than three lengths and is now back to his last winning mark.

Gortroe Joe is unlikely to run here, having raced at Leicester on Friday afternoon, finishing third of five over 2m4f on heavy ground. If he does run here, he'll be receiving weight (at least 8lbs) all round, but would still be rated some 5lbs higher than his last chase win and 13lbs higher than his last hurdles success from November. Prior to running at Leicester on Friday, he hadn't seen a fence competitively since July 2019 and twice in two days would be a bit much.

And to relevant career stats...

Pingshou is the obvious one to avoid from the above, but plenty of green and amber on display elsewhere. Hollywoodien sets the standard on going, there are plenty of past Class winners and Hatcher is well proven at the trip. This has all the makings of a trappy little contest that might end up being a tactical affair.

In eleven previous 6/7 runner contests at the trip/going, prominent runners have won 7 (63.6%) of them from just 32.4% or the runners which is almost double what you might expect. Leaders have won 1.5 times more often than expected with mid-division roughly on par with average. You don't want to be held up here, though!

Yet, in their last four runs, this bunch have run like this...

And true to the above, Gortroe Joe led for much of today's race at Leicester, before being overhauled 4 out over a longer trip on heavy ground. Marracudja shows well here, but neither Solomon Grey nor Financier look well suited.

Summary

Solomon Grey is probably the best horse here and really should be winning races like this, but if he's held up it's going to be tough for him and he might well need the run after 203 days off. With that in mind, I can't back him at 7/4.

I did like Gortroe Joe as an E/W possible based on weight, Instant Expert and race pace, but I don't see him lining up here, which is unfortunate as he's currently 11/1.

I don't like Pingshou (trip & Instant Expert) or Financier (jumping & pace), so I've three to look at for a potential bet and to be honest, I've little separating Marracudja, Hollywoodien and Hatcher, but I'd probably just about have them in that order.

I'm inclined to take the 11/4 about Marracudja and back Gortroe Joe as an E/W bet. Solomon Grey should be in the first three a worst and if Gortroe Joe doesn't run, then Hollywoodien for the trifecta or E/W bet.

 

Racing Insights, 11th January 2021

No bet for me on Saturday. which was (just about!) the right decision. Horn of Plenty almost embarrassed me by making the frame at 12/1, but failed by a length to spare my blushes.

Monday's free feature is the pace tab for all races, including our free "races of the day", which are...

  • 2.20 Hereford
  • 2.50 Hereford
  • 3.30 Dundalk
  • 7.15 Wolverhampton

And with heavy ground on the offing at Hereford (which should pass inspection as the ground thaws), we're going to tackle the higher grade of our two featured races from there : the 2.20 Hereford. It's a 9-runner, Class 3, Handicap Chase for 5yos and older over 2m5f on heavy ground and the winner will receive £7,018.

I'd expect Flagrant Delitiep to be a fairly short (7/4-ish) favoruite, but heavy ground is, of course, a great leveller so my aim is to see if we can find a better value alternative to the obvious pick, starting with the racecard itself...

The favourite comes here in good form (421), but the form horse (2311) is the 7yr old Volcano, whilst Dusky Lark was a runner-up 38 days ago. Conversely Last Encounter hasn't fared too well off late, failing to complete three of his last four runs.

Kapgarry and Brianstorm are both dropping down from a Class 2 run last time out, whilst Orrisdale, Flagrant Deltiep, Volcano and Last Encounter are all stepping up from Class 4.

Seven of the nine have had a run in the past 23 to 38 days and Rosmuc Relay has at least been seen in the last two months, but the odd one out, Brianstorm hasn't "graced" a track for almost 22 months (662 days) and it's actually closer to 26 months (780 days) since he last beat an opponent. He has had a wind op during his layoff, but I'd be wary of him doing anything here based on that layoff alone.

Plenty of the trainers have good records here at Hereford, bar Sarah-Jayne Davies (Last Encounter), whilst the jockeys of Kapgarry, Dusky Lark, Flagrant Deltiep and Brianstorm have all had some success at this venue, meaning it's not all bad news for Brianstorm! He, of course, has no Geegeez rating having not seen a fence in the past two years, whilst Last Encounter and Kapgarry are the lowest rated here.

Top rating, unsurprisingly, goes to the probable favourite Flagrant Delitiep, with Volcano back in second place some way clear of the pack.

In such conditions, horses who proven themselves on heavy ground and/or at this trip are the ones who tend to fare best. This field has four wins and four places from 27 collective efforts on heavy ground and have also won 11 times and made the frame 24 further times from 72 runs over trips of 2m4f to 2m6f. How do I know this? Well I consulted both place and win elements of Instant Expert!

Kapgarry seems to eiher in or fail to make the frame, Dusky Lark is the only heavy ground chase winner in the pack and is a proven placer at both class and trip. Orrisdale has good numbers off a small sample size of races, whilst the fav is also a proven placer, but doesn't excite me from a win perspective at sub-2/1 odds here.

Rosmuc Relay is proven on heavy ground and gets the trip well enough, Brianstorm is a Class 3 placer in the past and Subcontinent's downfall is the ability to convert places into wins. The same could be said for Volcano, whilst I think Last Encounter has seen his best days before now. He might be bottom weight, but he's 11yrs old now and it's the best part of three years since he last looked like winning.

So, Last Encounter is cast aside at this point, as is Brianstorm, not because of the layoff, but because he fulfilled another booking this afternoon and therefore is a likely non-runner here. The layoff would have put me off, but he actually ran really well at Exeter today, finishing as a runner-up beaten by just a length and a half.

That leaves us with seven runners to consider and 2m5f on heavy ground isn't that easy to get and race tactics might play a big part here. Our pace tab isn't going to help us much here today, sadly as this track had only had 3 soft ground 2m5f chases and 2 on heavy over the last two years, but I'd expect prominent or mid-division runners to go well here.

This is purely gut instinct, mind, there's no data or science to support my view, but leaders set themselves up for doing too much and getting caught late on, whilst hold-up horses might have too much to do in the closing stages on testing ground. As I said, it's just my theory, but it won't harm to take a look at how these seven runners have run in the past, would it?

If my musing is correct, then it doesn't bode too well for Dusky Lark's efforts from trying to win from the front, but it certainly doesn't rule any of the others out, so maybe we need to take a closer look at them to see whether we dare risk any of our hard-earned cash on them.

Kapgarry made all to win a Class 3, 2m5m5f chase at Stratford 10 monhs ago, but didn't go well in a Class 2 at Ascot last time out. In his defence, he'll probably have needed the run after 285 days out of action and he does drop in class here. He's a useful enough chaser who could well make the frame if things go his way. His jockey was 6 from 20 (30%) here at Hereford in 2020 including 2 from 5 over fences, but his trainer is 0 from 7 in Hereford chases since winning 3 of 4 in 2016.

Dusky Lark might well have been beaten by 18 lengths last time out, but that run was good enough for second place despite coming off the back of a 621-day absence and a wind op. Provided there are no ill-effects from that run, he'd be entitled to come on for the run. He's also the only previous heavy ground chase winner in this field, but isn't getting any younger at 11 yrs old.

Yard is 3 from 10 in the past four weeks including a win today and also sends the likely fav out here, suggesting this one is second string, a suggestion backed by the jockey booking, although Tom O'Brien was in the first three home on 6 of 11 occasions here at Hereford last year, but sadly won none.

Orrisdale is an interesting and lightly raced sort. 1 from 2 in bumpers, a win and two places from three efforts over hurdles and most recently fourth over fences last time out. Down in trip, but up in class here, has won on heavy already and has also won over 2m4f. A pound lower than LTO and has place claims today.

Flagrant Delitiep has finished 322421 in his last six starts, showing consistency and improvement along the way. All career runs have been at Class 4 since being well beaten on debut in a Class 3 Novice Hurdle. He won a Class 4, soft ground, 2m4.5f chase by 8.5 lengths last time out, but now steps up in class, is slightly up in trip on worse ground and with a new jockey on board,

That's not dismissing the talents of Aidan Coleman, though, who is 8/27 (29.6% SR including 3 from 6 over fences) at this track in recent years, but I'm not sure this one should be a short price today, especially as he's up 9lbs for that last run.

Rosmuc Relay had a decent looking profile on Internet Expert, but closer analysis shows that he really hasn't seen often enough to inspire confidence. A 9 yr old with just six races under Rules suggests something might be amiss with his fitness and his two heavy ground successes came in January & February 2018, so I'd be wary of relying on those as a gauge of his current ability to handle the ground. In his defence, however, he was a runner here over course and distance albeit at Class 4 on soft ground two starts (and 10 months) ago and maybe the drop back to this trip might be enough to propel him into the frame.

Brianstorm ran today and I didn't fancy him anyway if truth be told.

Subcontinent is a perennial placer, making the frame in 44% of his 32 starts across A/W, Flat, Hurdles and Chases, but only has 5 wins from those 32 runs. He was fourth of six and beaten by 15 lengths here over course and distance last time out and has only been eased a pound in the weights for that run. He's due to be ridden by an inexperienced 7lb claimer which would help at the weights, but if Brianstorm is indeed a non-runner, I'd expect regular jockey Charlie Deutsch to jump back on board this one. Not one I'd expect to win here, but like others has a chance of a place.

Volcano is the form horse and comes here seeking a hat-trick after back to back handicap wins at Ludlow and Warwick. He stepped up in class and was raised 5lbs between those two wins and steps up another grade here and is hit with an eye-watering 11lbs for his 3 length win LTO. That's going to make this very tough indeed. The god news is that the jockey from last time retains the ride and the horse will relish a drop back in trip carrying the extra weight. I like this one, but the weight and the class of the race are definite negatives for me.

Last Encounter was discarded earlier and I'd not be surprised if he was last home despite receiving chunks of weight all round

Summary

The fact that Flagrant Delitiep is a 15/8 favourite here says more about the lack of quality in the contest that it does about his own ability, I'm afraid. This is his race to win, quite simply because I can't offer any viable alternatives at a better price.

Volcano (4/1) was the obvious suggestion at a reasonable price, but the rise in class and weight might be his undoing, allied to a trip he's only tried once before, so he's a no from a win perspective and too short for an E/W punt. I ruled Brianstorm and Last Encounter out, of course and if Volcano is second best here, you've then four horses racing for third place and to be honest, they're much of a muchness.

I'd not be getting involved in the E/W market on this occasion and if I decide to have a bet here, it'd be a small one on the fav for a bit of interest and maybe the forecast with Volcano. As you know, I'm not a fan of betting at 9/4 or shorter, but 15/8 here might end up looking generous, although I'd still want more!

 

Racing Insights, 17th December 2020

No joy for the Nicholls/Cobden partnership in the two handicap chases we looked at form Ludlow today. Eritage folded quite tamely and didn't look like a 2/1 fav, never mind the 11/8 he went off at. One of the ones I liked, Admiral's Secret went on to win at 17/2, whilst last year's winner, Caid du Lain was fourth.

Then, in the next race Brelan D'As gave a really good account of himself to finish second at 7/1 which was good news for us E/W backers after I said he could make the frame. The market principals were poor and it was left to front-running Coup de Pinceau to complete the 1-2-3 at a cool 16/1 : these races invariably throw up a big priced placer, I just picked the wrong one with As You Like.

Thursday will soon be upon us with Instant Expert for ALL races the feature of the day as well as full free racecards for...

  • 12.35 Exeter
  • 1.55 Hereford
  • 2.20 Down Royal
  • 2.40 Exeter
  • 3.40 Hereford

...which include a heavy ground handicap chase, so that's where we're headed. It's a Class 3 contest and 7 will compete over 2m5f for a prize of £7,018 in the 1.55 Hereford...

Guy is the only one of these to have won a race this season, scoring on his chase debut in a Class 4 contest over 2m4f at Huntingdon before stepping up to this grade to finish second at Wetherby almost seven weeks ago. he carries top weight for his previous efforts (up another 2lbs here) and will have the benefit of both a jockey and a yard with good records at this venue : NTD does particularly well in chases here.

Mystical Clouds was beaten by 23 lengths at this class/trip last time out and will need to improve dramatically to take this based on that last run. In his defence, he did win a Class 3 over just half a furlong shorter at Kempton back in February and has been eased 2lbs in the weights here. Both jockey and yard have been in sparking form of late and this horse is now just 2lbs higher than that last win.

Eclair Surf is lightly raced and the least exposed here after just four starts. He came within half a length of winning on his chase debut when headed late on over course and distance 45 days ago and is entitled to improve for that run. Has won over 2m6f on soft ground in a hurdles contest already and his jumping seems fine, as demonstrated when wining a heavy ground 3m PTP in March 2019. Up in class today, but there's more to come from this one.

Golden Whisky was fourth on his seasonal reappearance last month when beaten by 15 lengths at Exeter. He's expected to come on for having had that run after a 269 day absence and it should be noted that he did win a heavy ground chase over 2m3.5f at Ffos Las a little more than a year ago. trainer Evan Williams has been amongst the winners of late and he'll be hopeful/expectant of a good run here. He'd need things to land right for him, though.

Subcontinent, like Eclair Surf, was a runner-up on his only run so far this season and was beaten by less than three lengths on soft Bangor ground in just his second start over fences. He'd also been off the track for more than eight months, so could improve for having had the experience of that race. he was, however, only a modest hurdler and most of his best form came over 1m to 1m2f on the Flat & A/W. I'm guessing there'll be a few ahead of him here, but when you put a Venetia Williams horse onto heavy ground, anything can happen, plus Charlie Deutsch rides this track really well.

Muffins For Tea is the old boy here at 10yrs old and aside from looking like the worst horse in the race will also need to overcome the effects of a 331 day lay-off. A record of 2 wins from 21 (1/7 over fences) isn't inspiring and it's almost 33 months since he completed a chase contest. Jockey Daryl Jacob is hot right now, but I fear he'd have to be superhuman to get this one anywhere near the places, especially as this is a step up in class.

Furiously Fast could possibly be a case for the Trading Standards to consider as in Flat, A/W, hurdles and chase contests, he has (like Muffins above) just 2 wins from 21 to date and also like Muffins steps back up in class here, despite being beaten by 35 lengths at this level on his seasonal reappearance. His rider, Ben Jones was a useful 3lb claimer at this venue last year, winning 5 of 11, but he's 0 from 7 this time around. I wouldn't bank on him breaking his 2020 duck with this horse either.

We can then assess their suitability matched against race conditions via the Instant Expert tab...

...where from a place perspective Golden Whisky looks very well within his comfort zone with some good numbers for Guy, Mystical Clouds and Eclair Surf, despite the latter's lack of racing. There's a definite top/bottom split with the last three not having much to shout about.

As for winning races, the truth of the matter is that this septet of geldings just don't win a lot of races. Subcontinent is 5 from 31 (16.1% SR and only 2/19 in NH races), whilst the other six have only won 10 of 79 (12.7% SR) between them, whilst under today's conditions...

...there's very little to write home about. You've still got a rough top/bottom split, but there's not really a lot to go off, so maybe it will boil down to how they approach the race.

In 19 similar contests to this one, prominent racers have won 9 times (47.4%) and leaders another 7 (36.8%), so it's patently obvious where you want/need to be...

...and I think that only Mystical Clouds and Furiously Fast will be classed as negatives here. There is a severe danger of this becoming almost like a long distance attempted sprint on mud, as there's no natural pacesetter here, but several who like to be towards the front end. I've got a feeling, however that Golden Whisky will decide to take it on from the front and this could well leave him susceptible to the likes of the tracking Eclair Surf And Guy.

So, how is this going to pan out, Chris? Well, I've no interest in runners 5, 6 or 7 to be honest. They're all up in class after defeats and none have really scored heavily in the analysis above, so I'll cut them to leave me with four : Guy, Mystical Clouds, Eclair Surf and Golden Whisky.

Summary

If running his usual way, I'd find it very hard to see Mystical Clouds taking this from the back of the pack and at 12's to 16's the market seems to agree. I think Golden Whisky will attempt to set the fractions and get caught in the closing stages by one or probably both of Guy and Eclair Surf, who are my two preferences here.

I like Eclair Surf at 4/1 more than I like Guy at 3/1 for this one, although either could win. Eclair Surf is less exposed, carries less weight and seems to have potential in spades and so he'd be my pick here.

 

Racing Insights, 12th December 2020

Wow! The Cross-Country went spectacularly bad for us today, as none of my four in focus even finished in the first four home of a 10-runner field. Thankfully, writing a column like this gives me the opportunity to put things back on an even keel fairly quickly.

And that opportunity presents itself immediately on Saturday, where feature of the day is the Trainer/Jockey combo report and our free races are...

  • 12.55 Doncaster
  • 1.50 Cheltenham
  • 2.05 Doncaster
  • 2.55 Newcastle
  • 3.30 Newcastle
  • 5.00 Newcastle

And I'm going to leave the full race profiling for today and focus on the TJ Combo report, where as you'll see I set fairly demanding criteria...

1. HANDICAPS OVER THE LAST 12 MONTHS

AND 2. 5-YEAR COURSE HANDICAP FORM

Now I'm going to see if I think any of them are worth backing, starting with Arqalina in the 1.22 Hereford...

Trainer Venetia Williams is 7 from 21 (33.3% SR) in chases here at Hereford over the last three years including 5 from 16 on soft ground or "worse", 3 from 7 over course and distance and 1 from 1 with jockey Robert Dunne and here they team up with Arqalina, an 8 yr old mare who will carry bottom weight 13 days after being comprehensively beaten at Ffos Los last time out.

She may well have been third home of ten starters, but she was some thirty lengths off the pace, despite being sent off 3/1 favourite. She's up three classes today and she'll be wearing cheekpieces for the first time (yard is 2 from 7 with first time cheekpieces this year). She's up in trip to a furlong further than she's ever ran before, she's new to this jockey, 0 from 3 in December and 0 from 5 going left handed.

As per Instant Expert, she has won on soft ground, where she has a win and a place from three efforts over fences and she has won over 3 miles, albeit in a Class 5 hurdle contest. The pace tab suggests you either want to lead or be up with the pace to win such a contest, but she generally races in mid-division and such horses are 0 from 14 in similar races and have grabbed just 5 of the 41 places.

I have Arqalina as a 12/1 shot, the market says 10's, she'll probably finish in mid-field and she's not a betting proposition for me today.

Should that race be a disappointment for the Williams/Dunne partnership, as I expect it will, they get to have another 70 minutes later in the 2.32 Hereford...

The yard is 0 from 6 over hurdles here at Hereford this year, but 2020 has been a strange one in many respects, because the Williams' hurdlers were 5 from 20 (25% SR) here during 2016-19. Of those 20, there were 4 winners from 11 on soft ground.

Chambard was last seen failing to finish a 2m4f chase on his return from an 8 month absence and now reverts back to hurdling some 21 months and 5 races since last tackling the smaller obstacles, as he looks to return to the consistent run of form he had from December 2018 to December 2019, when finishing 212223 over hurdles prior to results of 222 over fences.

Sadly he was then fifth of five beaten by 28 lengths in late February of this year, ahead of being pulled up on that return to action six weeks ago. In his defence, he will have needed the run, he does look better over hurdles and his sole win was on good to soft ground. He's new to today's jockey, though and he has tended to fare better over shorter trips.

Prominent racers have won 7 of 11 similar contests with hold-up horses faring worst of all, which doesn't augur well for this boy's chances either.

Like stablemate Arqalina, I don't see Chambard troubling the better runners here and mid-division is probably as good as he'll get.

Which means our search for a meaningful bet now swings North to Town Moor, Doncaster and Charlie Longsdon's 9 yr old chaser, Western Miller, who goes in the 12.20 Doncaster...

Western Miller fell at the second fence last time out so we've no idea what form he was in, but he was second of thirteen at 66/1 behind Rouge Vif at Cheltenham in a Class 2 contest and only really beaten on the run-in by his opponent rated some 17lbs better than him. The third placed horse has finished third again in another Class 2 contest, which would seem to bolster our chances of at least another placed finish now that he drops down in class off the same mark.

Trainer Charlie Longsdon's handicap chasers are 6 from 22 (27.3% SR) here at Doncaster since the start of 2016 when sent off at odds of 7/2 and bigger in Class 2 to 4 contests, including 3 from 5 for jockey Paul O'Brien, 3 from 5 at Class 3 and 1 from 1 over course and distance : achieved when Western Miller won here in January at 16/1 when Paul rode him to success at Class 2.

The horse has won 8 of 37 starts (21.6% SR) over obstacles so far, making the frame on 15 occasions in total and of his 37 outings, he is..

  • 6/32 when not the fav & 6/25 going left handed
  • 5/25 over fences & 5/21 in fields of 8-11 runners
  • 4/16 since the start of 2019 and 4/13 in cheekpieces
  • 3/11 under Paul O'Brien & 3/11 on good to soft ground
  • 1/1 here at Doncaster & 1/1 over course and distance

Much of that is backed up on Instant Expert, whilst the pace tab suggests that providing he doesn't go off too quickly, he should be in with a good chance again here.

I can definitely see Western Miller going well and making the frame at least.

Summary

At Hereford, I expect Venetia Williams to draw a blank withe the two runners I've looked at, but all is not lost. She has another runner in the 1.22 Hereford in the shape of the 7yr old mare Kapga de Lily, a 2/1 shot who I'd expect will be the one to beat there with 6/1 Ballybough Nora likely to be next best.

It could be a different story at Doncaster for Western Miller, who I think should make the frame at worst. Whether you back him E/W at 13/2 is your own call, I can't go E/W at that price, but I might well have a couple of quid on the nose. For what it's worth, I also think Duke of Navan might be worth a second look at 7/1 in that contest.

Whatever you decide, I wish you the best of luck and I hope you have a good weekend. Monday's piece will go "Live" a little later than usual, as I've got something on at teatime elsewhere.