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Racing Insights, 29th November 2021

This is Sam, filling in for Chris on Monday’s column. He’ll be back with Tuesday’s write up.

The Free Feature of the Day on Monday is the pace tab for all races. Arguably the biggest time saving tool of all on Geegeez Gold and very generously made free for every single race on both Sundays and Mondays to free registered users..

There are also three races of the day where all racecard features are available for free, again to registered users. These fee races on Monday are:

2.10 Ayr
2.25 Kempton
4.10 Kempton

With fixtures currently falling foul of the weather it seems safer to concentrate on the all weather races. Given the 2.25 Kempton is a class 3 handicap it seems a good race to analyse and is preferred over the very difficult looking 14 runners handicap at 4.10.

This class 3 handicap will be run over a mile and although 8 were initially entered, we’ve already lost Fox Duty Free who ran on Saturday evening. That’s going to make each way betting a bit off putting but don’t forget the Betfair Exchange place market will still pay 3 places.

In such a small field the draw isn’t going to have a great effect here but the pace of the race i still hugely important.

The mile distance at Kempton in smaller fields actually produces some very fair results with the place percentages ranging from 37.35% for prominent racers to 31.61% for those held up. That’s not a huge range so clearly every run style has a decent record. It is worth noting though that the prominent races have the best win and place percentage (prominent racers also profitable to follow for win only purposes) whilst those held up have the worst win and place percentages. So slight preference would be for something that sits just off the pace, all other things being equal.

There does seem to be a distinct lack of pace in this race though which is going to make life difficult for anything that is held up or any runner that doesn’t have a good turn of foot. You might even want something with plenty of 7f form and almost certainly won’t to avoid runners who have been plying their trade over further. Something with a bit of toe that sits just off the pace would probably be ideal in this.

Only a small field here so I’ll go through each runner one by one, in early odds order.

Bashosh

A lightly raced runner for Roger Varian but beaten, not far, in both handicap runs to date after winning the first two races of his career. He must be well thought of as his last three SPs have been 2/5, 4/5 and 6/5. His two wins came over 7f and 1m whilst his two defeats have come at 10f and 12f so perhaps this is the right trip for him but you’d be slightly concerned connections sent him over 12f in response to being beaten at 10f rather than dropping him back in trip. 

His formlines are really nothing special and he probably owes his place in the betting to previous SPs and his profile more than his actual form. Given the likelihood of a false gallop here you’d have to question if he will be vulnerable to something a bit quicker. I wouldn’t be surprised if he goes on and tries to make all given his form over further but overall he looks one to oppose at the price.

Chance

Chance’s autumn campaign didn’t really work out and he hasn’t come back in the same form as the previous season. Presumably whatever kept him off the track between a promising run at Meydan in January and a heavy defeat at Newbury in August has affected his performances since. He’s now had four runs and hasn’t got within 2 lengths of winning despite contesting some very winnable races.

Hopes seem to be now pinned on first time cheekpieces, which may well do the trick or may cause him to go further backwards. It’s a bit of a guessing game. 

The sire stats in the Profiler Tool don’t make the case that the horse is going to suddenly bounce back to form so although he’s an obvious contender if returning to his older form, he’s opposable on current form.

Uzincso

Something of a course specialist - his handicap form over course and distance reads 1111411. The last of those runs came in March and he’s run no sort of race in three turf runs since so while there are some question marks over well being, you at least know he is fit and he simply looks an out and out all weather horse.

He doesn’t do anything particularly quickly so a slow gallop might not be ideal but he doesn’t tend to sit too far off the pace and there is a long enough straight for him to get up a full head of steam. He looks the obvious one so far given his record here.

United Front

Seems better on artificial surfaces and although he still looks feasibly handicapped in a race like this you probably don’t want something that stays further (last win came at 10f) and he’s also often held up, although those tactics aren’t crucial. He was well placed when winning over a mile at Newcastle earlier this year but that came off a 6lb lower mark over a stiffer track so he could end up finding this a bit sharp.

Indeed

Without a win since 2019 and although he features off a declining handicap mark, a return to all weather surfaces failed to spark a massive improvement last time as he was eighth of nine. A 3lb drop since helps a little but he needs to improve again to feature with no obvious sign of where that improvement will come from.

Raising Sand

A rare all weather run for this Ascot specialist, his last run on artificial surfaces coming over 5 years ago over 10f at Chelmsford. He’s undoubtedly at his best over Ascot’s straight 7f although he does stay a mile. He was in decent form in the summer but missed two months and wasn’t in the same form in three subsequent runs. He’s well handicapped but he’d normally want a decent pace to aim at so even if he bounces back to form, which is a big question mark, he’s still probably not going to get the race run to suit.

Andaleep

Tends to save his best form for Sandown and although he has run well here this year, that came over 11f. All his best form is over further, he’s been out of form in recent runs and has now changed hands. This looks like a sighter over a trip too short to see what ability he has left and he makes little appeal here given what sort of stamina test this should be.

Summary

Maybe Bashosh lives up to his reputation and will blast off in front and never see another rival but he hasn’t looked the quickest and has been very expensive to follow. Chance can’t be completely ruled out but the headgear needs to work and there is probably more chance that it doesn’t. The ‘obvious’ one therefore is Uzincso. He’s hardly a bomb proof bet but given his course and distance form he seems the most solid proposition here and is a fair enough price in the very early betting (around 7/2).

United Front is one I want to back soon but not over this mile so he’s not even considered as a forecast. In fact I don’t like any of the remaining six enough to suggest a forecast so I’m simply suggesting a win only play on Uzincso.

My Way Or The Highway In Kempton Handicap

Any live racing on Saturday is going to be an anti-climax after Cheltenham but there is still some pretty good racing on offer. The Midlands Grand National will be the big betting heat of the day but as usual it’s going to be a guessing game as to which horses will last out stamina wise. I’m going to play it slightly safe this week and look at the 3.15 at Kempton (also live on ITV4), a class 3 handicap chase over two and a half miles.

As usual, all the information and tools used below are available with Geegeez Gold – click here to get your first 30 days of Gold for just £1.

Pace

It’s fairly widely known that the Kempton chase course tends to favour those ridden nearer the pace, but how much of an advantage is there?

The majority of winners here are ridden prominently, as are the majority of the placed horses. However it is front runners who have the best win percentage. Leaders have achieved a win percentage of 20%, just ahead of prominent racers who have a 16.13% win ratio. These figures fall steadily the further back in the field a horse is ridden and it’s a pretty similar story as far as the place percentages go, although mid division performs slightly better than prominent this time around. Front runners once again have the best performance and hold up performers once again have the worst performance.

Both front runners and prominent racers have been profitable to back blindly for win purposes in these conditions, prominent racers were more profitable than front runners though with an impressive win PL of 26.13. Front runners have the best IV though of 1.7, ahead of 1.37 for prominent, 1 for mid division and 0.4 for held up.

The above data suggests that in general here, the closer you are to the pace the better. Racing prominently or even in mid division isn’t a huge negative but being held up should certainly be considered a negative, it’s going to be difficult to come from off the pace unless they go really hard up front here.

Pace Map

Here is the pace map for this race, courtesy of the pace tab:

It’s possible we’ll see a contested speed here with Mellow Ben and Princeton Royale likely to dispute the early pace. The former has led on his last three starts, all in bigger fields than this, so it seems highly likely he’ll be sent to the front early. The latter had led on all five starts this season until last time out where he tracked the pace.

It’s also worth noting that My Way has gone from the front on four of his last five starts. He was held up three starts ago which is why the above pace map only considers him to be a prominent racer (the pace map takes an average of the number of runs selected, in this case it is four runs).

So for a relatively small field there is a fair amount of pace in there. It won’t necessarily mean there is a burn up but it should ensure nothing gets a very easy lead.

If it does prove difficult to come from off the pace again here that could inconvenience Domaine De L’Isle and also the well fancied Smarty Wild who are likely to be the most patiently ridden pair in the field.

Instant Expert

Let’s take a look at the Instant Expert in these sorts of conditions for win purposes.

Sorted by odds order, we see that the first few runners in the betting have a a fairly solid profile, from a superficial look. Outsiders Manofthemountain and Domaine De L’Isle also have data going for them.

Manofthemountain has a strong record on good ground, his only chase defeat coming when 4th at Cheltenham over further (the 3rd won his next two starts). The distance is a question mark for him though, as is his well being after being pulled up last time out.

Domaine De L’Isle seems better over this trip than further and has a good record in this sort of field size but he seems better on slightly slower ground and his form this season isn’t up to it.

My Way and Smarty Wild all have nice profiles in Instant Expert it seems. My Way has won over course and distance on good ground which certainly scores him some points. Smarty Wild is another course and distance winner which gives him some advantages in Instant Expert. He’s slightly unproven on this ground but four of his five wins came on good to soft ground so it’s unlikely he’ll be inconvenienced by good, good to soft in places.

The Runners

A quick rundown of each runner’s chances, sorted by from shortest price to longest price according to the early betting.

My Way

Made all over course and distance last time out with first time blinkers added to his usual tongue tie. He’s been pretty consistent throughout the season with generally more aggressive riding tactics employed this season. His two wins have come on his two runs that have come close to this distance on good ground, his defeats have come over 3m+ or on heavy ground.

The team of Paul Nicholls and Bryony Frost have an excellent record at Kempton in the past five years. They have a 33.33% strike rate and a place percentage of 60%.

He’s got a good record on this ground at this sort of trip, he took well to the blinkers last time and it’s possible a 9lb rise underestimates him if connections have finally found the key.

Falco Blitz

Another comfortable last time out winner but he’s previously failed to win here at Kempton in two starts. He may have finished 2nd here two starts ago and he has won right handed in the past but given he has often jumped left it’s debateable if this course suits him that well.

The winner of the race in which he was 2nd at Kempton almost went in again on his next start and he’s definitely amongst the best handicapped runners in this race with plenty of improvement left to come but that tendency to jump left could leave him vulnerable here.

Smarty Wild

Smarty Wild is fairly versatile regarding underfoot conditions but possible doesn’t enjoy extremes too much. He won over course and distance two starts ago and the 3rd came out and won a handicap on his next run. He went up 7lbs for that win but has been dropped 1lb after finishing 5th last time out.

He’s often patiently ridden, although was sensibly given a more prominent ride when winning here. If he’s held up again he could find himself poorly placed, even with a decent pace on offer.

Mellow Ben

A good ground lover (all four career wins have come on good ground) who has done most of his winning at Fontwell. He has good form elsewhere though, his run three starts ago at Newbury would give him an excellent chance here.

The 2nd and 9th won next time out, the 10th and 11th won shortly after and the 1st, 3rd, 4th and 8th all finished at least 4th next time out. That’s a pretty strong piece of form in the context of this race. He’s more exposed than the market leaders and hasn’t run nearly as well on his most recent couple of starts but those runs both came over 3m so this drop in trip should suit. A record of zero wins from six career runs at Kempton doesn’t inspire confidence though.

Vinnie The Hoddie

A faster ground specialist whose only two wins came on good and he finished 2nd on his only run on good to firm. His record when completing on good or faster reads 12142. He wasn’t in good form last time out but that was on good to soft in a listed handicap and this represents a drop in grade.

His previous run is more relevant in the context of this race (a class 3 handicap on good ground) and although he ran respectably, he’ll probably need to improve to win this.

He’s been off 121 days which is a risk but his trainer Oliver Sherwood does have a good record with fresh runners in handicaps. An A/E of 1.19 with handicap runners off a 60+ day break and an IV of 1.89 is very respectable.

Whatswrongwithyou

Ran respectably over course and distance a year ago but has only run once since and that was when unseating at the first in November. A further 113 day absence is definitely a concern. The majority of his wins have come on softer ground which is another worry and he’s clearly the stable second string behind Falco Blitz so enough to put most off him.

Manofthemountain

All his 4 wins have come over further and this drop in trip is perhaps an attempt to spark some life into him after he was pulled up last time out at Newbury. He was 4th in a good race at Cheltenham in October but he was beaten 53 lengths. If he could return to his Bangor form from September he’d have a chance but he’s still 5lbs higher and looks opposable.

Domaine De L’Isle

Hasn’t run well since January 2020 but has been given a wind op after his last run so there is a chance we see a better performance here. Just over a year ago he was completing a hat trick and he’s 3lbs lower here so isn’t handicapped out of things. His three wins in the UK have come on soft or heavy and his well-being has to be taken on trust.

Princeton Royale

The complete outsider and easy to understand why. He’s beaten three rivals home in his last four starts. Eight of his nine wins have come on good ground so this will clearly suit but his poor run has included runs on better ground so it hasn’t just been the ground bothering him. Difficult to see him bouncing back in this.

Verdict

An open contest and one in which Mellow Ben and Vinnie The Hoddie can outrun their odds without winning.

Preference though, unoriginally, is for MY WAY who probably isn’t quite the most progressive in the field but he’s one of a few that could be ahead of their mark still and he seems to have absolutely everything in his favour here. Both his wins have come when making all so other pace options are a slight concern but he’s finished runner up with contrasting rides so can run well however he is ridden.