As expected/advised, making all was the best policy at Chester on Saturday and class act Safe Voyage did just that as she returned to form with a bang, sadly I wasn't sure she would and didn't back her, despite thinking she was the best horse in the race!
Ah well, such is life and we must move on as the new week beckons. Feature of the day for Monday is the the pace tool and we open that up to all readers for all races including the following free races of the day...
- 6.15 Killarney
- 6.25 Wolverhampton
- 6.35 Lingfield
- 7.05 Lingfield
- 7.45 Killarney
The 7.05 Lingfield looks the best of the three UK offerings, so we'll focus on that 8-runner, Class 3, 3yo+ A/W handicap over 6f on standard to slow polytrack. The prize available is £6,210 and these are the ones hoping to land it...
This looks a really competitive affair here and should be good to watch. Half of the field have won at least one of their last five outings, but only Newyorksateofmind won LTO. The top two on the card drop down a class here, whilst the bottom four all step up one grade. All have won over 6f previously, Total Commitment is also a former Lingfield winner, whilst Mohareb and Newyorkstateofmind are both course and distance winners.
All eight have raced in the last seven weeks with Muscika and Newyorkstateofmind rested for less than a fortnight. We've 2 x 4yo, 3 x 5yo and 3 x 7yo here and all are geldings apart from the 4 yr old colt Raaeb, whose yard is in good nick righty now and have a good record at this venue, facts that also apply to his jockey. Newyorkstateofmind also hails from an in-form yard.
Raaeb heads the weights and won at this class/trip on the polytrack at Chelmsford three starts ago off 2lbs lower. Has struggled in two Class 2 turf outings since and despite dropping in class here and returning to the A/W, I think he has too much weight here.
Total Commitment made the frame in 8 of 9 outings (5 from 6 at Lingfield) prior to finishing 10th of 28 at Ascot last month. He runs off the same mark here and drops in class on his return to a venue he likes where he has five runner-up finished from 5 attempts over C&D.
Muscika does most of his work on grass with just 3 of his 56 career runs coming on the A/W and he hasn't raced away from turf since October 2019, 19 starts ago. He was 4th of 7 at Epsom last time out, beaten by six lengths and eased just a pound, it's hard to see him winning for the first time in over nine months.
Open Wide is another with just 3 A/W runs to his name, this time from 42 races, but he did win a Class 2 6f handicap off a mark of 87 four starts and nine months ago. Has struggled off marks in the 90's in three runs since and to win off 89 would be his best effort since June 2019, so it seems unlikely.
Treacherous has a good record on the A/W, winning 8 of 23, but his last two wins were back in July/August 2020, both on turf. His last wins on the A/W were back to back 6f successes at Kempton three days apart last February, but has only raced four more times on the A/W since. He was a decent 14/1 second of ten at Doncaster last time out, only beaten by a length, but now up a pound and up a class, will find this tougher but could make the frame.
Mohareb hasn't won any of his last 16 runs since winning here at Lingfield over 7f on New Year's Eve 2019 off 2lbs higher than today. He did, however, look like returning to form when only beaten by a neck and a short head into third place at Kempton last time out. His best form has been here at Lingfield where he's a former course and distance winner and I'd not be surprised in he was involved here.
Spirit Of May has a healthy 5 from 20 record over this trip, but he's a Chelmsford specialist, where he has 4 wins and place from 8 runs over 6f. He has failed to make the frame in any of four A/W runs elsewhere and since winning a Class 4 at Chelmsford in January has only managed to finish last of nine and last of seven, both back at Chelmsford and then he was 12th of 14 at Chester (the scene of his other career win) last time out. He'll be near the back, I suspect.
Newyorkstateofmind is a former course and distance winner and has raced here more than any other venue, but his last four runs have all been on turf. He was first home at Bath four starts ago, but was demoted to second, however he did win there again last time out. In between those Bath runs came two disappointing efforts (6th of 8 and last of 6) highlighting his inconsistency. He might well be bottom weight, but he's up in class and up 4lbs and doesn't tend to run well twice in a row.
A few of these have very little A/W experience and it's not always easy to transfer turf form to the A/W (and vice versa for that matter!), I now turn to Instant Expert to show me the collefctive collateral form...
GOING : Treacherous and Total Commitment look particularly well suited by the Standard to Slow pace of the track here.
CLASS : Treacherous again with two wins from three, but Total Commitment also has two wins
COURSE : Mohareb is the only one with significant form on this track
DISTANCE : Virtually all have an A/W in over 6f, but the ones catching the eye are Treacherous, Spirit of May and Total Commitment
WEIGHT : Only Mohareb races off a mark lower than his last win.
The draw stats here at Lingfield over 6f on the A/W would suggest a lower half draw would be beneficial, but stall 7 has performed well enough to say that a high draw isn't necessarily game over...
...and those drawn wide also have little problem making the frame. Top jockey David Probert says: “It's probably the most idiosyncratic of the all weather tracks because of the hill and from the four furlong to the two furlong poles you're running down that hill. Some horses don't handle the hill which makes it a tricky track to ride; many of the jockeys will start to make their move at about the three - halfway down the hill, on the home bend - trying to get some of their rivals off balance. That's where you'll see most of the manoeuvres, jostling for position, trying to either get an inside run or slingshot off the bend if a little wider.
In five and six furlong handicaps, you want to be handy, and perhaps ideally with a middle draw to cut the corner a little. That gives you the most options. They're both tricky starts, the five in a little chute on the crown of the bend, and the six just before the bend on the main track. Inside draws need to be very quick away and edge right a bit to get a position, because if you don't you'll be in a pocket and it'll be hard. The six furlong trip is a bit more forgiving because you've got half a furlong or so before the bend, but you still need to jump and get a position quickly.
This would suggest that those getting away quickly would fare best, but that's just David's perception of it. Personally I'm happy to take his word, but just in case, these are the win stats...
...which show a massive advantage in getting out quickly. Leaders make the frame almost 57% of the time too, so that's clearly the best tactic. To see how those pace stats interact with the draw, we have out unique heat map, which tells us...
...that you should try and grab the lead and the higher you're drawn, the better if leading is your chosen tactic.
We log the running styles of every runner and we also know the draw, so we can easily see where the 8 horses in this race would fit on the above chart if they ran to their usual tactics and that looks like this in draw order...
The pace here would seem to be from the lowest drawn horses and if running to form, I'd expect Muscika to lead them out with Total Commitment and Newyorkstateofmind in close attendance. Treacherous has ticked plenty of boxes so far, but he's the only hold-up horse in the field and whilst conditions should favour him, he might not be able to pass seven rivals on the run-in over a 6f sprint.
With a better draw or pace/draw make-up, I'd probably want to back Treacherous here and I think he can still make the frame, but would have too much work to do late on to win. Muscika looks set to lead, but I've serious doubts about his A/W ability, so he's not for me, but he should tow Total Commitment and Newyorkstate of mind along, whilst Mohareb also looks well placed and did actually lead the field three starts ago, so he might race in a more advanced position.
Might be easier to rule some out first? Well, I don't like Open Wide, Raaeb nor Spirit of May here and I do think Treacherous makes the frame. So, I need two more for the frame and two for the discard pile. Total Commitment and Mohareb both scored well on Instant Expert, so I'll have them in my three against the field and of the two, I prefer Total Commitment to Mohareb.
So, my 1-2-3 here are Total Commitment, Mohareb and Treacherous and they're currently priced at 9/2, 6/1 and 11/2 with Newyorkstateofmind the 4/1 fav. He could easily win this too, of course, it's that competitive, but I'm happy with my decision.