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Hever Sprint Preview: Consistent Runner Could Be Lord Of The Lings

The Eider Chase at Newcastle is probably Saturday’s big betting race but there is also some nice live racing from Lingfield on Saturday including the Winter Derby and the Hever Sprint. We are sure to find some course biases in the latter (2.05 Lingfield) and they may well end up setting us up for a decent bet.

Draw

Around a sharp 5f there isn’t a lot of time to recover a poor position so the draw data here should be enlightening.

There isn’t a huge difference in win percentage or place percentages across the board, most likely because of the small field size. Even for a small field size, it’s slightly surprising to see the highest win percentage go to the highest draws. The flip side of that is the place percentage, which has twice as much data, sees high draws come off worst. It’s the PRB (percentage of rivals beaten) that gives us the most data though and a low draw PRB of 0.52, middle draw PRB of 0.51 and high draw PRB of 0.47 suggests a low to middle draw is still preferable, although only slightly.

Over a few different trips at Lingfield stall 1 performs poorly but in this field size over this trip stall 1 actually has the best PRB (0.55) and highest win percentage (24.07%). Stalls 5 and 6 are the worst performers according to PRB and it looks as though you ideally want to be in the lowest four stalls.

Pace

The minimum distance tends to be one where we see the strongest pace bias at many courses and Lingfield is no different.

There looks to be a strong edge towards front runners over this course and distance in similar field sizes. Front runners have been ridiculously profitable to follow with a win PL of 250.05! The IV for front runners is 2.06, almost twice as large as that of the next best run style and almost four times as big as the IV for hold up runners.

The win percentage, place percentage, win PL, each way PL and IV all steadily fall the further back in the field you look at which strongly points to an extensive bias here. It’s also worth noting that 142 winners from the races in the data set have been won by front runners of prominent racers whilst just 67 winners have been placed in mid division or held up early. There were slightly more runners from the latter group so you can certainly expect most winners to be near the pace here.

Pace and Draw Combination

The pace and draw combination heat map can sometimes put a different spin on any potential draw or pace bias or can show any micro advantages there could be over course and distance.

There is some really interesting data in this heat map. The draw data tells us that a high draw isn’t much of a disadvantage, if any. However we can now see that high drawn front runners perform well, better than any other draw/pace combination in fact. The consequence of that is that high drawn prominent racers, mid division runners or hold up performers all perform worse on average compared to their lower drawn counterparts.

We also see that the worst performance at all comes from low drawn hold up horses. The PRB is almost half of what it is for low drawn front runners. This goes to show that not all low drawn horses are created equal here.

It’s pretty clear to see you either want to be a front runner from any draw or a low to middle drawn prominent racer or mid division runner.

Hever Sprint Pace Map

Let’s take a look at the pace map for this contest to see the likely pace setup:

Ornate is the main pace angle here but it’s possible Lord Riddiford could contest that pace. What stands out here is that all the pace is in the lowest two stalls. Ornate is normally pretty quick from the gates so he may be able to get across Lord Riddiford but it seems likely Lord Riddiford won’t make life easy for Ornate on the front end.

We’ve established that anyother kind of ride than front running is a big disadvantage for high drawn horses so there certainly have to be some question marks over Royal Birth and Rocket Action, and also Blue De Vega to a certain extent. Rocket Action is fairly well fancied here and his run style and draw combination could be a problem.

Belle Anglaise has plenty to find on form and her run style isn’t going to be much help here despite a decent draw whilst hot favourite Moss Gill is quite tactically versatile so P J McDonald would be sensible to track the pace from an okay draw in stall 4.

The Runners

Only seven runners to go through, let’s look at them in market order.

Moss Gill

It's no great surprise to see Moss Gill hovering around even money for this contest. He’s got 7lbs or more in hand of the rest of the field, he’s never been out of the first two in three runs on artificial surfaces and he’s already a listed winner. He also won off a similar break this time last year, albeit in a lower grade.

The bad news is he’s never run on polytrack and he’s been held up on two of his last three starts. If similar tactics were to be employed here he could end up forfeiting the 7lb+ advantage he has over this field based on official ratings. If you wanted to be even pickier you could ignore his runs at York, which seems to be his favourite track (form figures of 12233 there). He’s been well enough beaten at other venues at listed level twice and Group 3 level once which is a slight concern.

His best run to date was a 3rd in the Nunthorpe behind Battaash last year and if able to replicate that form he’d be almost impossible to beat here against this field.

Rocket Action

Rocket Action is returning from a similar kind of break as the favourite and he too has a very good all weather record. He’s one of just three runners in this who bring a triple figure official rating into the race and he ran a solid 4th in a competitive Group 3 at Dundalk last time out.

He’s another who hasn’t yet run at Lingfield though. His run style would be a big concern from any draw and it’s a particular concern from the widest stall. He may well end up finding this test too sharp and he would have made far more appeal at Wolverhampton where he has won all three of his starts.

Blue De Vega

Blue De Vega is the other runner to be rated 100 or over in this and he’s arguably the stable second string, despite being rated 1lb higher than Rocket Action. He’s another who hasn’t been seen since the tail end of the flat turf season but he has at least run well after a break before.

He’s a past Group 3 winner and has been rated 110 previously but he is 8 now and perhaps a bit past his prime. He has won on artificial surfaces before but he’s yet another to have never run here and he certainly doesn’t look an all weather specialist like Rocket Action. He generally raced prominently last season so might not be badly placed but he would need to improve on last season’s form to win this.

Lord Riddiford

This speedy prominent racer/front runner has now hit a career high rating signalling the fact that he’s been as good as ever this winter. He has a better win ratio on sand compared to turf and he’s won three times on Chelmsford’s polytrack course but he’s never run here. It’s a course that should suit his style and as a winner at courses like Goodwood and Windsor he’s no stranger to a speedy or sharp 5f.

In fact if you use the ‘General Config’ filter on his form you can see he does very well on courses with a similar configuration to Lingfield.

He's unlikely to beat Ornate to the lead in this but he is comfortable just tracking the pace, tactics employed when he won at Wolverhampton in November. He’ll be better placed than most here, is in the form of his life and only has 4lbs to find with the second highest rated runner. He’s also fit having run all winter and he could be the main threat to Moss Gill.

Ornate

The likely front runner in this is the shortest priced runner who has actually run here at Lingfield. He hasn’t won in three runs here but he did get within a short head of victory over course and distance in December off a rating of 95. He ran less well here last month though and was also below par when sent off favourite at Southwell last time out, a course at which he is a three time winner.

He's closely matched with Royal Birth on both his previous two runs here but doesn’t seem good enough right now or in good enough form to pose a real threat. At best he’s a back to lay option but if Lord Riddiford pesters him on the front end he probably wouldn’t even appeal even for trading purposes.

Royal Birth

The only course winner in the field and the winner of this race all the way back in 2017. The 10yo isn’t quite at that level anymore but he’s still a relatively consistent performer having chalked up two more wins here at the turn of the year, taking his Lingfield tally up to five wins from thirteen at this trip.

He was put in his place at this level recently but that was over 6f, a distance he has never excelled over. Another point to note is the horse’s record for Richard Kingscote.

The horse has finished 1st once and 2nd twice from four 5f runs under this pilot. He needs to improve on his recent form by several pounds to win this but his form in this race does read 1522 over the past four years and he’s entitled to outrun his odds. He’s more than capable of finishing 3rd in this but with only 7 runners he still doesn’t appeal as an each way option.

Belle Anglaise

The youngest runner in the field and the only female meaning she gets a useful 5lbs from the others. She’s rated 90 so does have to improve but not by as much as the ratings might suggest. Is she capable of running beyond 90 though?

She hasn’t run in this country since her 2yo campaign where she was last seen being well beaten in the Oh So Sharp Stakes over 7f. She’s since been running in Germany but she failed to get her head in front as a 3yo. Her only win came on her only start on an all weather surface (at Chelmsford) so the return to polytrack is definitely an interesting angle but this will be her first run at the minimum distance so in all probability she’ll be seen to best effect in the coming months over a little further on this kind of surface.

The Verdict

Moss Gill looks the most likely winner of this race but doesn’t appeal in the slightest as a single at the price given there are some doubts, notably fitness and record away from York.

Lord Riddiford is the solid but unspectacular choice from the plum draw. He’d be a pretty decent each way bet with an extra runner in here and three places on offer but looks less interesting with just two places on offer. Therefore the best option may be a small single on Lord Riddiford at a general 7/1 but a slightly largely straight forecast on Moss Gill to win and Lord Riddiford to finish runner up. That bet pays around 9/1 with bet365 at the time of writing.

A braver punter might be willing to add Royal Birth to make up a trifecta but that’s not a bet that will appeal to many for decent stakes, especially with Royal Birth faring slightly unluckily with the draw.

Miss This Lingfield Runner At Your Peril!

The cold snap continues to claim fixtures on a daily basis, even the all weather fixtures, but Lingfield looks highly likely to survive a morning inspection and we’ll go there for Saturday’s preview.

The 3.10pm, run over 10f, will now be shown live on ITV4 thanks to the abandonments of Newbury and Warwick and despite being a relatively lowly class 5 race, that TV coverage should make it a much more popular betting heat than it would have been otherwise.

Pace

Over several distances at Lingfield you see a pace bias towards front runners, is that the case over this distance of ten furlongs?

We do see a slight edge towards those closer to the pace but this distance looks a lot fairer than many others. The win percentages and place percentages favour prominent racers but there isn’t much between front runners and those from mid division which gives the majority of runners a very fair chance.

It’s worth noting that those that are held up are worse off for all metrics so extreme waiting rides around here should be avoided where possible.

Of course the pace of each individual race has a huge bearing on any potential pace biases so the pace map for this race should be examined closely.

There isn’t a whole lot of pace in this race and it’s unlikely to be a well run contest that favours hold up horses. Convertible and Amsby are comfortable racing prominently but neither are habitual front runners so there is every chance that prominent is the most advantaged position in this once again.

Draw

This race is run over the same course and distance as the Winter Derby and the Easter Classic on All Weather Finals Day and in those races a high draw is often talked about as a big negative.

There does seem to be a slight disadvantage for higher drawn runners in this field size. PRB (percentage of rivals beaten) is most likely to flag a draw bias and a figure of 0.48 for high draws compared to 0.51 for both low and middle suggests a small disadvantage but no major concerns.

The win percentage figures for high draw runners are a bit more concerning though, only 4.7% of high drawn winners have won in the data sample compared to a 12.39% win percentage for low draws and a 12.18% win ratio for middle draws. The place percentage uses three times as much as the win percentage figures and things are more even looking at place percentage. High draws place 25.64% of the time and that’s only around 6% lower than low and middle draws (which are once again extremely similar) which backs up the impression that a high draw is a slight disadvantage but not a factor that should be used to completely write off a runner.

Looking at the individual stall data should give some more insight.

Despite a high draw generally being a slight disadvantage, the worst individual stall as far as PRB is concerned is stall 1 with a PRB of just 0.44. This stall 1 issue is found at other distances too (notably 1 mile) and is possibly down to patiently ridden horses from stall 1 rarely getting a clear run.

The poor results for stall 1 will have an affect on the low draw data so the fact that low draws do well on the whole suggests stalls 2 and 3 should be marked up somewhat. Stall 3 in fact has the best PRB (0.56) ahead of stalls 2, 4 and 6 which all have a PRB of 0.53.

The above image is sorted by PRB3, which combines data from the two adjacent stalls to flatten the curve and remove data anomalies. This suggests that a low to middle draw is ideal as long as you aren’t drawn in stall 1. On the whole though no stall should be considered a coffin box.

Pace And Draw Combination

The pace and draw combination graphics on Geegeez Gold are excellent in showcasing possible hidden advantages and disadvantages.

This particular data set seems to show that being on the outside of the field around Lingfield’s fairly sharp circuit is quite the disadvantage and the reason why higher draws tend to perform less well than low and middle. The fact that front runners and hold up horses seem to be better at overcoming a high draw will be down to those run styles being more likely to get closer to the inside whilst high drawn prominent racers and mid division racers will be forced wide more often than not.

The Runners

We’ll take a look at the runners one by one in their early market order, starting with the most fancied and working our way down to any outsiders.

Stopnsearch

Beaten over course and distance on his last two runs but that doesn’t tell the full story for this lightly raced 4yo. He’s had just the two starts at 10f and he’s been a little unlucky in both. On the first occasion he was beaten less than 2 lengths having endured a bit of a nightmare passage in the straight and he followed that up by being beaten just a short head last time out.

He’s only gone up 2lbs for that last effort, which is probably fair given it didn’t look the strongest of contests. He wasn’t seen to best effect off a slow gallop but the likely front runner in this race is the same horse that made the running in his last race so he’s unlikely to get a stronger pace to chase this time around.

He’s clearly a leading contender on his last two runs and should go well again.

Convertible

Hugo Palmer does well with headgear changes and he seems to have found the key now with the tongue tie and visor combination for the previously inconsistent Convertible. He set a steady gallop last time out when 3rd behind Stopnsearch, a horse he also faced on his penultimate start too when he was a slightly fortunate half length ahead of that rival on that occasion.

He was beaten absolutely fair and square last time when getting the run of the race and assuming he gave his full running that day his chance of reversing form probably rides on Ryan Moore getting a better tune out of the horse. He’s capable of running well again but makes less appeal than Stopnsearch, even at the bigger price. Stall 1 may also be a slight concern.

Capla Crusader

Seemed to step up last time out when winning, switching from extreme hold up tactics to making all. He's a possible pace angle again here despite what the pace map tells us having run so well with those tactics employed. That was his second run for a new trainer that day and it seems everything came together.

He very much stole that race by kicking into the bend and although previously rated 9lbs higher he never went close off those higher marks and a 7lb rise for that last win, which probably flattered him a little, might well be enough to find him out. He may be able to get an easy lead once again though.

Avorisk Et Perils

A dual course winner, representing Gary Moore, a trainer who has been in excellent form over the winter. On his latest start he finished half a length in front of Capla Crusader and is now 6lbs better off. Capla Crusader clearly improved from first run to second run for his new trainer but that’s an important form line to note. What’s even more interesting is that Capla Crusader wasn’t the only winner to come out of that race. The winner and the 3rd both won next time out as well plus the runner up was a half length 2nd on his next start. That’s clearly hot handicap form and Avorisk Et Peril was held up in his run a couple of times so can be marked up a little too.

He’s run well here on several occasions and had various excuses for some poor runs here too. He’s run twice over course and distance off this mark, winning one of those and running very well in the aforementioned hot handicap last time. He’s clearly capable off this mark here and could represent plenty of each way value.

Stall 8 isn’t completely ideal and he wouldn’t want to find himself too far back but he’s sat in mid division often enough (including last time out) to suggest that’s how he’ll be ridden in this. Hopefully he doesn’t find himself caught on the outside of runners.

Amsby

Handicap debutant Amsby is the big unknown in this. His first two runs came here at Lingfield and they included a one length 2nd to Group One Power. That horse was competitive off marks in the low 80s last season but those runs were over middle distances and he gave Amsby a beating giving him 7lbs over a mile so Amsby looks only fairly treated off 69 based on that form.

Amsby wasn’t seen for 291 days before being beaten 13 lengths at Kempton in December. That was a decent enough contest but he still ran below par and does need to improve to be competitive off this mark now.

Capriolette

A consistent mare on the all weather that brings course form figures of 1344 into this. She’s been defeated on all three tries over this course and distance but they all came off higher marks in races that have worked out fairly well so it can’t really be said she doesn’t stay (she’s placed over a furlong further at Kempton). She also probably had too much use made of her on her latest run here.

There is plenty of form in the book that suggests she’s very capable of winning off this sort of mark and her ability to run well over a mile could be of use here if there isn’t much early pace. The cheekpieces she’s worn on her last two starts are left off but she’s run well plenty of times without headgear so that’s no real concern.

She’s overpriced here at around 10/1 at the time of writing but looks more of a place only bet in this company.

Aztec Dreams

Second run after a wind op and a 438 day break. Given that break this 8yo ran really well in 5th over course and distance last time out, beaten less than three lengths. It’s difficult to know what to make of his previous French form or how much he’ll improve for his latest outing but he’s not without a chance in this. He will need to improve on his comeback run though.

Bealach

Probably Gary Moore’s second string in this, Bealach went from racing over 12f on polytrack to racing over 1m on fibresand on his stable debut last time out. It’s therefore no real surprise he was an 18 lengths last in that race. This contest will tell us more about his well being but even if he bounces back to form, 10f round here off a slow early pace will probably still be too sharp. One to watch with a view to possibly backing next time out when going up in trip again.

Compass Point

A surprise winner two starts ago over course and distance but far less convincing last time when well beaten behind Capla Crusader. He’s dropped just 1lb for that and would need to run better than his recent win to take this so he’s opposable even if bouncing back to form.

Decompartmentalize

He hadn’t shown much in Ireland before moving to Pat Phelan and he continued that trend when last and well beaten on handicap debut for his new trainer last time out at Kempton at 100/1. Huge odds again here and with good reason.

Verdict

Capriolette is interesting and capable of taking a slightly weaker race than this but this might be a little competitive for her.

Stopnsearch is the obvious one with few negatives and if Covertible and Capla Crusader were to compete for the lead that might set things up nicely for him. He’s short enough in the early betting though.

The one who makes most appeal is Averisk Et Perils at around 10/1 early. I’m a big fan of ‘hot form’ and his latest effort certainly fits that profile with three next time out winners and a next time out runner up from the first six finishers. He’s won off this mark, over this course and distance and if able to get a decent early position he should have as much chance of winning this as the favourite, at much bigger odds and an each way price. There is a fair chance he finds himself wider than ideal though which could be enough to cost him victory.

Lingfield Preview: Bookies Overlook Profitable Trainer Change Angle

Cheltenham's abandonment means three races from Lingfield will be shown on ITV and that includes their 3.30pm, a class 3 mile handicap that looks a nice betting heat despite just the seven runners.

As usual I’ll be looking at this race using the form tools and racecards on offer with Geegeez Gold, many of which can be accessed for free on various days with a free geegeez account.

Pace

I’ve looked at a few different mile handicaps here over the winter and the data shows that front runners can have an advantage.

The smaller the field the less ground hold up horses need to make up in most cases so it’s no surprise that in fields of this sort of size the front runner advantage isn’t quite as strong. The majority of winners in smaller fields here over this distance are held up but they have the worst win percentage record of just 12.02%. This steadily climbs the closer to the pace you get, 18.8% of front runners are victorious here. We also see similar increases in the place percentage and IV metrics as you get closer to the pace.

One thing that is worth remembering is that although hold up performers can be at a disadvantage over this course and distance, Lingfield is well suited to speedier hold up types that have a turn of foot. We saw this a couple of weeks ago when Intuitive won a nice handicap over track and trip. Grinders, that are typically suited to straight courses or long straights and take plenty of winding up tend to do much less well here and are the kinds of hold up horse to oppose.

Looking at the pace map for this race:

Unsurprisingly in a seven runner contest, there is little pace on offer here. Golden Force looks the lone pace angle but he’s unlikely to make it much of a test. He’s led on three of his last seven runs and has been close to the pace in all but one of those. He seems a horse that doesn’t need to lead but is happy to do so when it provides him with a tactical advantage.

Atheeb may well be close up. He had been ridden fairly patiently for Sit Michael Stoute previously but on debut for George Boughey last time out he led in the first furlong before tracking a pretty strong pace. The new connections probably see him as a horse that likes to race handily and it would be no surprise to see him ridden fairly positively again.

The majority of the remaining runners tend to be patiently ridden so there should be little pressure on the leaders here.

Draw

The data here suggests a slightly peculiar trend:

In seven runner fields here low drawn runners have a PRB (Percentage of Rivals Beaten) of just 0.44 whilst middle and high draws have a PRB of 0.53 and 0.54 respectively. For some reason stalls 1 and 2 both perform much poorer than any other stall in this field size. Now this could be a quirk of the data as there is no obvious reason why those stalls should perform much worse but stall 1 has the worst PRB in field sizes of 8 runners whilst in 9 runner contests stalls 1 and 2 are amongst the three worst stalls for PRB. So there is potentially something in this and Lethal Lunch is stall 1 and Tadleel in stall 2 could be at a slight disadvantage here.

The Runners

Looking at each of the seven runners here in early market order:

Catch My Breath

A winner of his last two starts here, Catch My Breath carries a 5lb penalty whilst jumping up two classes. The impressive Laura Pearson rides but she also rode last time so there is no additional benefit from her claim today compared to last time.

It seems strange that in the very early betting this horse is just 13/8 so he could well be a day of race drifter. He’s a 5yo, off a career high mark going up to class 3 company for the first time. The race he won last time didn’t look particularly strong but he is unbeaten in two course and distance runs and on his only other start here he ran fairly well in a warm handicap over 10f so this course is clearly bringing the best out in him and he can’t be ruled out.

Golden Force

The likely pace angle in the race has been in good form since racing resumed in June, winning 3 of his 8 starts. He’s 10lbs higher than his defeat to Lalania in June which is a race that worked out extremely well with the winner going up 16lbs in the ratings since then, that 10lb rise isn’t guaranteed to find him out based on that run.

His good form since June could be down to the change of headgear to a visor, which he continues to race in here. He’s also seemed particularly well suited to Wolverhampton, producing form figures of 131 there (the 3rd was a close third, beaten less than a length). On polytrack however his form figures have been 499376. He failed to beat a runner home when sent off 11/4 on his only previous run at Lingfield and that would be a concern. The form of the Charlie Fellowes yard would also be a slight concern. He’s not had a winner since Golden Force won a month ago, that run spans 18 runners, 8 of which were shorter than 5/1 so better runs would clearly have been expected for many of those.

Masked Identity

Masked Identity was behind Golden Force on his last two runs at Wolverhampton, beaten 1.75 lengths and 3 lengths respectively. He was unsuited by a slow gallop when beaten 3 lengths and although only 2lbs better off now, he does have claims of turning that form around given question marks over Golden Force’s suitability to this track.

Masked Identity has his own question marks here though. He’s raced 12 times on the all weather, producing 2 wins and 6 top 3 finishes but he’s yet to race at Lingfield. He’s run well in defeat at Chelmsford on several occasions though. His latest when a staying on 3rd over a furlong shorter having met trouble in running and he also finished 3rd last time he raced at a mile there, behind two subsequent winners when rated 3lbs higher. He’s raced at 4 all weather courses and finished at least 2nd at all of them so Lingfield shouldn’t be a worry. He’s won off a 1lb lower mark in the past and although he might be vulnerable for win purposes, he’s well capable of running well.

Lethal Lunch

Some serious questions to answer for this runner. On his stable debut, last time out, he was dropped into claiming company and despite being sent off a 5/4 chance he was beaten 10 lengths. He hasn’t shown anything since finishing 6th in the Wokingham in June and this is his first run over a mile so there are so many reasons he could run poorly. He has won at Lingfield, and is one of those speedy types that could do well if held up over this trip, but his current well being has to be taken on trust and stall 1 is potentially a disadvantage too. One to keep an eye on in the market though.

Atheeb

Surprising to see this runner available at 8/1 in the very early betting. He won over course and distance on his penultimate outing in a race that worked out well. The 2nd and 3rd have both won off higher marks and there were several other winners in behind. He’s 5lbs higher but he won that race cosily and beat other well handicapped runners so is certainly still of interest off 85.

That was his only run as a 3yo. Presumably he had problems and he was later sold, reappearing as a runner for George Boughey earlier this month. He was 6th, beaten almost 5 lengths, so certainly needs to improve on that bare form but there are reasons to think he will. Firstly that looked a really strong race and he probably chased too fast a pace (the pace setters finished 9th and 11th).

There is also the fact he was having his first start in 223 days for a new trainer. George Boughey has inherited 25 runners from other yards in the past 5 years and not one of those 25 runners has won first time for him. A huge 18 of those were single figure prices and 10 were shorter than 5/1 so his horses clearly don’t run well first time when joining from other yards.

Now what is really interesting is 22 of those 25 runners have had more than one run for Boughey and 9 were successful on one of their next two outings so they clearly come on for that first run.

Rossa Ryan has only ridden for the yard on three occasions in the past 5 years and he’s produced form figures of 133.

There is obviously some risk involved given he does need to come on for that last run but the evidence suggests he will, both based on the above data and also the fact that he was a 6/1 shot early for his last race and went off at 12/1.

Mohareb

Mohareb outran his odds two weeks over course and distance when 3rd in a class 2 handicap. That run merits plenty of respect but the winner won by 3.5 lengths and it’s worth noting the 2nd favourite and joint 4th favourites were both below par that day so finishing 3rd might not be the achievement it first seemed.

His record here at Lingfield over 7f or a mile reads 133 and he’d be more than capable of finishing around 3rd or 4th here but that doesn’t make him of betting interest in this contest.

Tadleel

Along with Lethal Lunch he’ll be looking to improve the record of low drawn runners in this. He has been successful over 7f in his career but 7f around Lingfield looks too sharp a test so his defeat last time out here over shorter is forgiveable, for all he was definitely below par having failed to beat a runner home. He was beaten half that distance on his previous run against a pace bias at Chelmsford off a 144 day break so that Lingfield run was definitely a step backwards.

He was competitive over this distance in class 2 handicaps at York in the summer off this sort of mark so he probably doesn’t deserve to be as big as 16/1 early but he clearly needs to bounce back from that lesser effort last time out. That was his only run at Lingfield so perhaps it’s a case of the course not suiting. He’s best watched here but it would be no surprise if he won over a mile in the near future.

Verdict

Masked Identity is capable of running well in this and is probably more interesting than Golden Force due to the latter possibly being better suited by tapeta than polytrack. Golden Force will be one of the better positioned runners though.

Catch My Breath and Atheeb both bring 100% c&d records into this race. Catch My Breath seems really well suited to this course so is respected and he should run well but he’s of much less interest at short odds given he’s facing much better horses here than he previously has done.

Atheeb on the other hand has beaten progressive, well handicapped horses over course and distance and seems to have far more scope to be better than his current mark. The angle with the progression of Boughey new recruits from first run to subsequent runs is a very interesting one and is more than enough to help me favour Atheeb for this contest.

The selection will hopefully track Golden Force early and get first run on the rest of the field going into the straight. Given there is a chance he doesn't improve from last time you'd probably want to go win only even if there were three places on offer so with two places on offer for each way bets it's even easier to decide to back him win only.

Lingfield May Bring Out The Best In Intuitive In Mile Handicap

With so many national hunt meetings being lost to the weather at the moment it seems best to play it safe this weekend with an all weather preview. Fortunately there is a good card at Lingfield including a class 2 handicap over a mile and that is going to be the subject of this preview.

Pace

It’s typically an advantage to be nearer the pace at most courses and that’s certainly the case over this course and distance in this kind of field size.

Leaders at Lingfield over a mile have been profitable to follow blind, producing a WIN PL of 38.22. Win percentage, place percentage and IV all steadily drop off the further back in the field you go which is a clear sign that the nearer you are to the pace here the better.

Although hold up horses have a poor record here with a win percentage of 10.1% and a place percentage of 30.01%, in terms of bare figures they provide almost as many winners as any other run style and more places than any other run style (from more runners admittedly). So although seemingly disadvantaged by the course, the frame will often contain at least one or two hold up performers. There are certain hold up horses that are particularly suited to Lingfield, those speedy ones with a great turn of foot, as opposed to the grinders that prefer big fields and long straights. If you can distinguish between the two you can find the better bets amongst those likely to be ridden patiently.

Just as important as the course pace characteristics is the pace of the individual race.

This certainly shouldn’t be run at a crawl with the likes of Papa Stour and Corazon Espinado in the field. The pair were both ridden with a little more restraint last time out but had led on their previous three racecourse appearances.

Fox Power has led in the past but not for over a year. He is consistently ridden handily these days and a repeat of those tactics looks likely.

Crownthorpe and Intuitive look likely to be at the rear of the field early with both tending to held up in the majority of their races.

Draw

I studied some Lingfield one mile handicaps earlier in the all weather season and came to the conclusion there was no strict draw bias over this distance. In 8 runner fields, according to PRB (Percentage of Rivals Beaten), there is a very slight disadvantage to the middle draws and seemingly an even smaller advantage with those that break from the higher stalls, despite those runners having to track across to the rail before the bend.

The win percentages suggest low is slightly better than high (middle still at a slight disadvantage) whilst the place percentages, which give us more data than the win percentages, increase slightly the higher you are drawn.

Overall there is very little in it and if there is a draw bias, it is negligible.

Pace and Draw Combination

Just because there is no strict draw bias it doesn’t mean that certain run styles aren’t advantaged or disadvantaged by the draw. What is a good draw for some run styles can often be a disadvantage for others.

The above tells us that the draw doesn’t make much difference for front runners, prominent racers or even hold up performers but it does make a lot of difference for those that race in mid division. It could just be a fluke of data (although we have a decent sample size here using PRB) and low drawn mid division horses seem to have a good record with a PRB of 0.57 whereas high drawn mid division has a PRB of just 0.38. It is probably the case that high drawn runners are able to get closer to the rail with other run styles but are forced to take a wider course and cover more ground if they are both wide drawn and settle in mid division.

The Runners

With just 8 runners set to go to post we can have a good look at the chances of each runner. Here they are in order of their early odds, from most fancied to least fancied.

Intuitive

This is probably the horse the race revolves around. He’s looked a bit of an all weather specialist to date with defeats on all four of his turf starts but a record of 11321133 on UK all weather surfaces (was also unplaced on dirt in Dubai).

Those form figures look even more impressive when you look at the defeats. The first two came just behind Alkaraama who has since rated 17lbs and 14lbs higher than those two runs. The most recent defeats came behind the progressive Ghlayoon when Intuitive was poorly placed and also behind the hat trick completing Misty Grey. What makes that last performance look all the better is that Intuitive was once again poorly placed but ran on well into 3rd after having to be switched and the 2nd, 4th and 8th from that race have all come out and won since.

There is no doubt that Intuitive remains a well handicapped horse but this will be his first run at a mile and simply staying on late over 7f isn’t enough to prove that this trip will suit. The horse’s sire, Haatef, has a win strike rate of 9.69% with all his flat runners and that drops only slightly to 8.51% over this mile trip. The dam was a 7.5f winner and the only other offspring from her has run well as a 2yo over 7f so there are plenty of pointers that suggests this mile trip should be within his reach, especially with Lingfield being a speed favouring track.

Fox Power

A very brief look at Fox Power’s form figures over the past year or two might not suggest he has a favourite’s chance in this but digging deeper shows he’s probably a well handicapped horse.

He hasn’t won since taking a listed contest at Newcastle in April 2019 but he’s clearly had a couple of issues since and seems to be working his way back to form again. After that listed win he was off the track for 237 days before finishing a 1.5 lengths 4th at Chelmsford off a mark of 100. He had the run of the race that day but it was a respectable effort.

Between that run and March he would race three more times, running okay in defeat each time but not looking like a winner waiting to happen off a mark of 99 or 100.

He would then spend another 102 days off the track before reappearing in the Royal Hunt Cup at Royal Ascot, a race in which he was well beaten. He was then well beaten again twice over 10f on turf before finishing 4th off a mark of 94 over the extended 9f at Wolverhampton. The 2nd and 3rd have both won off higher marks since then and Fox Power was closer to the pace than ideal that day so he’s not badly handicapped now off 93.

The main problem for Fox Power may be the surface. On turf he has failed to win in seven attempts, on polytrack he has failed to place in two runs whilst on tapeta his form figures are 131244. His only run at Lingfield was at 7f and although he was only beaten just 2.25 lengths he was last of six runners having gone through the race well but finding disappointingly little. He’s unlikely to run terribly but he looks a better horse on tapeta and could be much more interesting in the Lincoln Trial at Wolverhampton in a couple of months’ time (a race in which he was 4th off 6lbs higher last year) rather than this.

Corazon Espinado

A change to slightly more patient tactics and a drop in class seemed to pay dividends last time out when winning a class 5 handicap by 5 lengths. He won a class 3 handicap a year ago off 85 so isn’t necessarily out of it here off 87 but this is likely to be much tougher off a career high mark (he’s been beaten on all six runs off 86 or 87). He is previously proven over this distance but with this being a furlong further than last time, three classes higher and his mark being 9lbs higher he’s no guarantee to run to the same level again.

A major positive for the horse is his record when running within 10 days of his previous run. He’s won three from four in those circumstances and on that basis should be considered at least very competitive here, for all he might not be handicapped to win.

Crownthorpe

A last time out winner at Southwell and at his best on soft ground or on the all weather. His latest win was off 90 and he’s won off 91 in the past but he’s been beaten in all seven runs off 92 or higher.

The surface is clearly very important to this horse and it was no great surprise that he took to Southwell’s fibresand last time out given his liking for deep ground. Ignoring a run at Newcastle where his jockey fell off exiting the stalls, his all weather form figures now read 332131. However his two biggest losses, distance wise, have come in his two starts at Lingfield where he has finished 3rd twice in fields of seven and five (beaten 3.25 lengths or further in both races).

As previously mentioned Lingfield can suit those turn of foot horses rather than grinders and Crownthorpe may be a bit more of a grinder, less suited to Lingfield than other venues. He’s not terribly handicapped but this course and handicap mark may well catch him out with third or fourth place seeming most likely here.

Lord Rapscallion

One of two here for Stuart Williams and perhaps surprising that he is slightly more favoured early than his stablemate Papa Stour.

Lord Rapscallion will be having just his second start for Williams having moved from Johnny Murtagh in November. On his stable debut he ran a respectable 4th in a Kempton listed contest at 50/1, although given the distances he was beaten by horses rated 105, 109 and 104 he didn’t look to run beyond his mark of 102. He was 2nd in Ireland in a competitive 7f handicap in September off 101 but it's worth noting that the majority of his best runs during the flat season (where he rose 14lbs in the ratings) were under a strong partnership with rider Nikita Kane who had a huge claim. He’s probably never run to a three figure rating for any other jockey and without a claim here he could be vulnerable, for all he has the talents of Cieren Fallon on board.

Papa Stour

Papa Stour is the main pace angle here and he’s seemingly a bit better on polytrack than he is on tapeta (last four runs on polytrack have produced form figures of 1112, last four runs on tapeta have produced form figures of 6628) so Lingfield may well suit him on his debut here. He is probably at his very best around Chelmsford though which suits his front running style extremely well.

His recent form has been strong. He won three starts ago at Kempton off a 3lb lower mark, beating a next time out winner in Diocles Of Rome, so he’s not handicapped out of this off 91. He’s probably vulnerable to something a bit more progressive but there is absolutely no reason why he shouldn’t run very well, especially if Corazon Espinado allows him an uncontested lead.

Mohareb

Possibly equally good at 6f and 7f which does raise some question marks over the suitability of 1m on just his 2nd attempt at the distance (previous go was his 2nd start on a racecourse when finishing 4th in a novice race). He was a couple of lengths ahead of Intuitive behind Ghalyoon at Chelmsford in November and is now 1lb better off but Mohareb was seen to much better effect that day than Intuitive and isn’t as likely to back that up over the extra distance, for all there are stamina doubts over Intuitive too.

He was below par last time out here at Lingfield and although he is probably in with a small chance here, and may well out run his odds, it would be a surprise if he’s well enough handicapped or strong enough in the finish over this trip to get his head in front.

Mission Bay

Difficult to weigh up on his debut for Marco Botti having previously raced in Italy. A mark of 100 does seem fairly stiff for what he has recently achieved and he’s probably going to need to drop a bit in the handicap before being competitive.

Verdict

Given the doubts about Fox Power and Crownthorpe on this surface I’m inclined to think the win shortlist should be Intuitive, Corazon Espinado and Papa Stour. I don’t think the latter is well enough handicapped to win this but his record with a very recent run is worrying if looking to oppose him.

Intuitive and Papa Stour definitely look better handicapped and if going off the pace data you’d be much more inclined to back Papa Stour, who is likely to lead, rather than Intuitive who is likely to be settled in last. However Intuitive looks to have the turn of foot that will make him ideally suited to this course and he’s likely to be a fast finisher in the straight. He’s unproven both at Lingfield and at a mile so is risky at the price but there is more upside to this one than anything else and two and those question marks may well still turn out to be positives rather than negatives. Intuitive therefore gets the nod for a small bet ahead of Papa Stour who still has another handicap in him and Corazon Espinado who is probably best of those who have raced at Lingfield before.

Racing Insights, 31st December 2020

An easy winner on Wednesday with Inevitable Outcome appreciating Laura Pearson's ride and claim at Wolverhampton. The horse was well backed from 6/1 into 10/3.

On to Thursday...

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Once again we have a completely free choice of races to look at on Thursday with all races open to registered free users and a competitive 6f Lingfield handicap (3.35) catches my eye, largely because there is a runner I have had my eye on for several months running in this! Let’s see what kind of chance he, and the rest of the field, have in this contest.

I’ll start with my primary horse of interest and then I’ll see if a stronger case can be made for any other runner.

Porto Ferro went into my tracker in June after a couple of strong efforts in 6f handicaps at Windsor. She ran in a race on the 22nd June and although beaten just over 4 lengths in 3rd, time has shown that to be a strong effort.

The winner, runner up and 4th all won next time out. In fact the 4th won his next two starts after that run. It would therefore stand to reason that Porto Ferro would be capable of winning again off that mark (which was 45). She ran again over the same course and distance a week later and was 2nd on that occasion, with the winner franking the form again somewhat by finishing a close 2nd in two of his next three starts.

Now it’s worth noting that Porto Ferro is a bit of a Windsor specialist having won two of her three turf victories there and she’s also gained three of her eight runners up berths there too. However she’s run well here at Lingfield too in the past, both on their turf course and more importantly in the context of this race on the all weather course too having won and finished 2nd here.

So why hasn’t she won this season if so well handicapped? Well her next run came a month later on soft ground at Goodwood and she predictably ran poorly as she’s barely been a rival home in three attempts on soft ground. Since then she’s had five all weather runs but they’ve all come at 7f, a distance over which she had previously failed to place in seven runs. Not much was expected of her in her five recent spins over 7f with SPs of 50/1, 28/1, 100/1, 66/1 and 33/1 but she’s worked herself into decent form, finishing 3rd and 4th on her last two starts in twelve runner fields. On those final two runs she had cheekpieces back on that were worn and run well in much earlier in her career.

She’s unfortunately 3lbs out of the handicap here but that means she’ll be racing off 46, which means she’s still well handicapped on her June form. Plus she has Darragh Keenan taking off 3lbs for good measure. Her last run here, when 3rd, came off this mark and she looked very much as though she’d improve for the drop back to 6f on that occasion and the runner up has won since so everything points to her being very competitive once again off this mark.

Comeatchoo has been running well here on his last few starts, he’s probably equally effective at both 5f and 6f so there is no reason why he should necessarily improve on his latest 2nd at 5f back up to 6f. Since winning narrowly here off a mark of 54 in November he’s been held three times here and a further time at Wolverhampton giving the whiff that he’s no longer well enough handicapped to win. His two handicap wins have been off 51 and 54 and his form figures off higher marks read 5642354744445333 which seems to suggest he still needs to drop a couple of pounds from his current mark of 56. That’s not to say he can’t run well though.

Come On Girl, ridden by Geegeez sponsored David Probert, won a weak course and distance handicap off this mark in July and her best form since has possibly come over 7f. She was 7lbs out of the handicap last time out in a class 3 handicap here over 7f so a 4 length beating was no disgrace but she’s failed to place in all three runs over this distance for Mick Appleby off this sort of mark. She needed every yard of this 6f when she won here so she’ll probably need a very strong pace to figure.

Hey Ho Let's Go went close at Kempton last time out over this trip an is now 2lbs higher as a result. His only previous career win from twenty-five starts came here over the minimum trip on turf off a 4lb lower mark but he has finished 2nd off higher marks before on both turf and artificial surfaces. A repeat of that run should see him go well given the winner of the race won again easily next time but his overall profile is quite patchy so whilst he's capable, he comes with risks attached.

Aguerooo only beat one home on his last run which came over course and distance. He’s down just 1lb as a result. His last two wins came off much higher marks over course and distance but they were almost two years ago and he needs to bounce back to form here.

Catapult has the widest draw to deal with here, coming out of stall 12.

Stall 12 has the poorest PRB in handicaps over this course and distance and double figure draws offer three of the worst five PRB figures so Catapult is clearly going to be at some disadvantage here. He’s on the right kind of mark to be competitive but hasn’t had any obvious excuses on his recent runs. There was a bit more of a revival at Kempton last time out when 4th but the winner has been well beaten since.

Mont Kiara was 1.25 lengths behind Catapult that day, given a very contrasting type of ride and probably not seen to best effect given how the race panned out. Having previously been rated 95, he’s a shadow of his former self now with a rating of less than half that. He’s probably better over 7f these days but given a strong pace he could run into a place at a price. However he too is drawn very wide which is a negative.

Amnaa was the horse that won that race Catapult and Mont Kiara contested last time out but as previously mentioned, Amnaa came out and ran poorly next time out. She won that race at 40/1 and in the other five of her most recent starts she’s beaten just 10 of her 56 rivals so clearly isn’t one who puts it all in very often.

Of the remainder here, Giovanni Tiepolo has finished nearer last than first on his three runs for a new trainer, Morning Shadow also ran poorly for a new trainer last time (and was running poorly before that), Clashaniska has been running very poorly over further and will probably do better back at sprint trips but still has to massively improve on what he’s been showing whilst Stopdworldnletmeof has a wide draw and is a 40 race maiden.

Pace could be crucial here with a few of these happy to get on with things.

Looking at the past returns by run style it’s a huge advantage to be nearer the pace in this sort of contest. Front runners have the best strike rate of any run style and they produce a huge WIN PL of 60.0! Contrast that with a WIN PL of -232.50 for hold up performers.

There should be a decent pace on here though with at least two or three capable of going forward early. That may well mean that in this contest it is those that are ridden prominently that are seen to very best effect. One of those prominent runners is badly drawn (Stopdworldnletmeof) and another one of them is extremely consistent (Amnaa).

Verdict

This may be a competitive race but it’s certainly not a good race. That comes with the territory in betting in this grade though and it’s simply a case of finding the least poorly handicapped runner that has conditions to suit. The only thing that would probably suit Porto Ferro better is to run this on fast turf at Windsor but she’s done enough around Lingfield to suggest she can transform her form here. The recent runs at 7f have helped her rediscover her form (as have the cheekpieces) and this smells of a slight ‘plot’.

Come On Girl does look better at 7f but with a strong pace on the cards and question marks over a lot of the field she could be next best. She has a 60% place strike rate in this race class which is almost twice as good as anything else in the field.

Racing Insights, 19th December 2020

Friday's analysis wasn't too far off but the main selection Raspberry got going a bit too late and finished a staying on 5th. A good run at the price but just needed a bit of extra early pace.

Saturday’s feature of the day is the Trainer/Jockey Combo report which is available in full to all free registered users. The free races on Saturday for free registered users are as follows:

11.50 Haydock
1.05 Newcastle
1.25 Lingfield
2.25 Ascot
3.25 Newcastle

The 1.25 at Lingfield is a class 2 6f handicap featuring some progressive performers and is a race I’m immediately drawn to here.

Premier Power is the obvious starting point as barring any major market moves he’ll be going off favourite here. He represents the powerful Roger Varian yard (who has an impressive course IV of 3.1 in the past 12 months) and having raced four times to date is yet to finish out of the first two.

His latest start was his handicap debut and although beaten by Brian The Snail (who reopposes here) he was only beaten a nose and is clearly still very progressive. So how much substance is there to his form? Well in August after 11 months off he beat reliable yardstick Recall The Show easily by 3.75 lengths giving that 80 rated rival 7lbs. That victory meant he started life on a mark of 100 and he proved that mark certainly wasn’t beyond him when getting beat in the final stride at Kempton. More on Brian The Snail to come but that was a very much in form horse getting the better of him so it was no disgrace. He’s only up 2lbs for that so is obviously going to be competitive again.

Can Brian The Snail confirm form with Premier Power here at Lingfield? He’s now 3lbs higher and doesn’t have anywhere near the improvement left in the locker that Premier Power does so you’d expect Premier Power to reverse form.

Brian The Snail is chasing a hat trick here having won his last two (at Newcastle and Kempton) and he’s actually won his last three on artificial surfaces. In fact he’s tasted defeat just once at this distance on the all weather. He’s still unexposed away from turf but does have to translate that form to Lingfield.

Aberama Gold is yet another progressive runner here with recent form figures of 121. He’s slowly come to hand as the year has progressed and won last time out at Chelmsford off a 3lb lower mark and the runner up franked that form with a next time out win so a 3lb rise could underestimate him.

Will To Win ran in some strong handicaps over the summer but seemingly lost his form a little on his last two runs and will need to have benefitted from a 90 day break to figure here. Simon and Ed Crisford do really well here though (course IV of 3.35 in the past 365 days) and the horse has finished first and second here from two runs, albeit in small field handicaps. If he bounces back he could run well but this might be a bit deep for him.

Top Breeze is a very consistent performer on the all weather but he’s struggled to get his head in front recently, producing recent form figures of 22332. It’s worth noting that whilst he’s won at 6f, his other two wins came at 5f, as have all his recent places. His last three runs at this distance have produced form figures of 979 and he looks a bit short given how strong this race looks and the distance it will be run over. He’ll do well to place.

Mohareb has run 15 times on artificial surfaces and although still largely running well, it does seem as though the handicapper has him. He’s 11lbs higher than his last win at this distance and looks slightly better at 7f these days now.

Typhoon Ten will need to improve to figure here. He was 3rd off this mark two starts ago at Kempton, only beaten .25 lengths, but that wasn’t anywhere near as good a race as this. He does run well at Lingfield and would be of interest in a weaker race but this is a tough ask.

Merhoob looks underestimated in the betting. He was much better than the bare result two runs ago at Chelmsford behind Aberama Gold and was only beaten 0.75 lengths. He’s now 2lbs better off and trainer John Ryan has an IV of 1.38 when turning horses around within 7 days of their previous run. His course and distance form reads 1122331435 and the majority of those runs have come off marks in the mid 90s. His form here in handicaps off marks between 90 and 93 is 122 and his current mark is 87.

Lomu completes the field and the first thing that catches the eye is the booking of Laura Pearson. She’s been a revelation in recent weeks and is well worth her claim of 7lbs. She’s had 7 winners from just 17 runners in the past fortnight and has interestingly has only tasted defeat once (when 2nd) when riding a runner priced 7/1 or shorter (5 winners from 6 in that sample). Lomu has been running as if a return to 6f is required but he hasn’t run well at that distance for over two years and is almost certainly just not particularly well handicapped or in great form at the moment.

Pace is likely to play an important role here.

Premier Power is likely to get an uncontested lead and front runners are favoured here so things are setting up nicely for him. He’ll also have no trouble grabbing the perfect position from stall 2. With Aberama Gold in stall 1 almost certainly happy to drop in just behind the favourite.

Merhoob is likely to be anchored near the back early on, which is of course a negative here, but it’s been a negative every other time he has run very well here. He’d ideally get a stronger gallop than he's going to get here but he’s well enough drawn.

PRB (Percentage of rivals beaten) drops off for the higher draws over this course and distance so those drawn particularly high in this contest so Top Breeze, Mohareb and Will To Win face an extra obstacle to overcome.

Verdict

The quartet of most interest (no prizes for originality) are Premier Power, Aberama Gold, Brian The Snail and Merhoob. There is every chance they’ll be the first four home. Premier Power is possibly the best handicapped horse in the race. We know the ceilings of most of the rest of the field but not with this runner and this course could ideally suit him. He’ll be advantaged by the way this is run and is definitely the most likely winner.

The ‘value’ has definitely got to be with Merhoob but he may well finish 4th through no fault of his own and without an overly strong pace to run at. He still looks an interesting enough each way though.

My personal preference for how to play this race would be to back Merhoob each way and to cover Aberama Gold, Brian The Snail and Merhoob in combinations of tricast behind Premier Power (that would be six permutations). At the likely prices the forecasts don’t particularly look worth covering.

Lingfield Handicap Preview: Pace Likely To Dominate Mile Races Yet Again

Last week I examined two one mile handicaps at Lingfield with some success (7/2 winner and 9/1 placed). Having highlighted a strong pace bias at the course in that article, it was no surprise that the winners of both races were ridden prominently. And we might just see something similar again in the 11.35 at Lingfield on Saturday, another one mile handicap.

Pace

I looked at two contrasting field sizes last week to compare the differences in pace bias. This week we have a ten runner handicap so let’s see what the data tell us:

Once again we are seeing a strong pace bias towards those that lead in this sort of field size. Backing front runners blind has been hugely profitable and leaders have an IV of 1.32.

As you go back in the field the Win%, Place% and IV figures all gradually decrease. The closer you are to the pace here, the more advantage you have.

Draw

We can use the great tools on Geegeez to get insights here, too. This time it’s the turn of the Draw Analyser:

Looking at any metric that relates to winners here would suggest middle draws are advantaged and low draws are disadvantaged. The Place% figures slightly back that up although they are much closer together than the Win% figures; and PRB suggests that there is very little in the draw over this distance between all stall positions.

Looking at every single stall in the data range used see a variance of just 0.03 between the single ‘best’ stall and the single ‘worst’ stall so realistically there is no obvious draw bias at all.

A look at the pace and draw combination might shed some light on some micro situations where there could be a draw bias.

Pace and Draw Combination

I mention this a lot but I’m a really big fan of the pace and draw heat map that’s available on both the Draw Analyser page and also the Draw tab on the racecards. Just because there isn’t an overall draw bias it doesn’t mean that certain run styles aren’t advantaged or disadvantaged based on their stall position.

By displaying the PRB data in the heat map we are making use of as much data as possible from every qualifying race.

The standout takeaway from this is that the biggest advantage is with high drawn front runners. Two furlongs are run over this course and distance before the runners head into the bend so there is no obvious reason why higher drawn front runners do better than lower drawn front runners but it appears they do enjoy an advantage.

There aren’t many massively disadvantaged positions based on the draw but it does seem those that are drawn high and further back in the field have a slight disadvantage from their positions on average.

The Runners

We’ve established the pace advantage so the pace map for this race will tell us if any of the runners are likely to get the run of the race or if the pace advantage could be nullified by a contested speed.

This race certainly should not be run at a crawl with Lalania, Ruby Gates and At Ease all comfortable going forward.

Starting with At Ease, who is the early favourite, Charles Hills has good course form with six wins from seventeen runners in the past five years. His handicap debutants are also profitable here in that period, producing a 23.81% win record and an IV of 2.1.

Looking at the horse itself, form is limited after just two starts. She was entitled to need the run first time out and ran respectably in the circumstances and she followed that up with a novice win over a mile at Chelmsford. Gaining a handicap mark based on a front running victory around Chelmsford can be a dangerous game given runners of that nature will generally be seen to best effect there but there should be a similar advantage here at least.

The bare form of her win was decent enough. She beat 84 rated Mars Landing (probably not flattered by that rating but is hard to win with) by 0.75 lengths in receipt of 5lbs. The pair were 7 lengths clear of the third. She could easily have been handed a rating around 80 which would have been quite interesting given she has clear room for improvement and it seems the handicapper has let her in lightly off a mark of 74 here. She’s a high drawn front runner and appears to have every chance.

I’m Available is challenging her at the head of the market at the time of writing and she comes here off the back of a staying on third at Wolverhampton on her latest start. She has previously won at a mile but all her best form over the past year has been at 7f. She’s likely to be held up and the form of her Kempton win two starts ago was certainly nothing special (the second, fourth and fifth were all well enough beaten next time out) and she’s much easier to oppose here than At Ease.

Others who look opposable also include Kwela who despite a decent return from wind surgery last time is now back on a career high mark and has been beaten in three runs off lower marks here. One Small Step was behind Kwela last time with little optimism for reversing that form here.

The importance of strong Lingfield course form was discussed in last week’s preview as it can be a slightly quirky track that brings out the very best in some runners. Course form is certainly no worry for the likes of Stay Classy and Lalania, both of whom have been tried at listed level this season.

Stay Classy’s form is fairly hit and miss but she’s two from three at this venue, her only defeat coming in a class 2 handicap. Her wins came off marks of 82 and 83, both with the 7lb claim of Angus Villiers who was very good value for that claim, and in her defeat she was beaten 3.25 off 89 without a claimer so without a claimer again here she is probably still a little high in the weights. There is also a fair chance she is slightly better at 7f too.

Lalania has been a revelation this season, winning four races in 2020 rising a total of 19lbs in the handicap. The big question is whether or not the handicapper has got her yet. She was runner up off a 9lb lower mark on her last handicap run at this distance but the 1st, 4th and 5th have all won since so that was clearly a smart effort. She also won on her next start to frank that form further. That win came at 7f and the 4th and 5th won next time out with the 3rd and 6th placing since so she has a strong catalogue of form and she’s only 4lbs higher than that effort.

She’s a speedy sort for a mile which is great around here and she’ll be on the pace from her low draw. She has proven this course suits well with a 4 length victory on her last run at this venue. That win came at 6f and she had previously run well here over just 5f, finishing a fast finishing 2nd.

The downside of Lalania is she is likely to be taken on for the lead (she doesn’t have to lead though and should be happy enough to track the leader) and she no longer has the services of Hollie Doyle who has struck up a nice partnership with the horse, riding her on her last four victories.

Ruby Gates is the other pace angle who has not yet been mentioned. She made all last time out in a five runner, class 5 handicap. She’s up 3lbs for that and has never won above that recent winning mark, nor has she won in seven runs in class 4 company.

The only runners yet to be mentioned are Lady Eleanor, Sunset Kiss and Delicate Kiss.

The former is lightly raced and is yet to get within 4.75 lengths of the winner in four handicap starts. Those runs all came at 7f and she’s shaped a few times as though worth a go at a mile but she doesn’t look well enough handicapped to win this and is high enough drawn for a hold up performer.

Sunset Kiss is also lightly raced and went from winning a Wolverhampton maiden by 2 lengths to being beaten 41 lengths on handicap debut. She had previously shown a decent level of form on turf so a first encounter with heavy ground looks to blame for that effort. She shouldn’t be badly handicapped and is overpriced but has plenty of questions to answer obviously.

Delicate Kiss was behind Kwela and One Small Step at Kempton last time out but is only 1lb higher than when 2nd at Chelmsford on her previous start. The winner hasn’t done much for that form in two runs since and the handicapper probably has her now.

Final Verdict

So the two I’m most interested in here are the well fancied At Ease and the progressive Lalania. They should both be well placed, assuming they don’t compromise each other’s chances by getting into a competition for the early lead.

At Ease has the front runner/high draw angle, the trainer/course record is profitable and she looks to have been let into handicaps lightly but she’s yet to run here.

Lalania should be well placed and has very few questions to answer. She was admittedly beaten 15 lengths last time but that was in Listed company in a big field. It’s possible she is a couple of pounds higher in the ratings now than ideal but she still has enough in her favour to run well at what could be pretty generous odds (a very early 10/1).

I’ll be backing Lalania each way and covering the pair in a reverse forecast. The options for third are plentiful but Sunset Kiss certainly shouldn't be written off.

Lingfield Preview: The Best Bets For Two Mile Handicaps

With the flat season officially over, I’ll now be largely concentrating on the all weather over the winter with the odd staying chase thrown in for good measure.

Lingfield has a good quality card with two listed races at the end of proceedings but it’s two handicaps earlier on that catch my eye as decent betting heats and I’ll be examining both here. Both races are run over a mile but with differing field sizes so we’ll be able to see how much difference the field size makes to any pace and draw biases and hopefully we’ll be able to come out of both races with a decent bet or two.

The races in question are the 12.10pm, a class 6 handicap featuring twelve runners and the 12.45pm, a class 2 handicap with just the eight runners.

Draw

Twelve Runners

The good thing about looking at all weather races is we have a huge amount of data on consistent going types so we can look at the exact field sizes rather than a range.

In slightly bigger fields of twelve runners there seems very little draw advantage with win and place percentages fairly similar and PRB almost exactly the same. Middle draws have performed worst of all for many metrics but they come out slightly on top in terms of PRB so it’s probably fair to say there is no draw advantage over this distance in this field size despite other distances here having some fairly strong draw advantages.

Eight Runners

Draw advantages are usually less prevalent in smaller fields so let’s see if the data backs that up here:

A quick glance at these figures might suggest a middle draw is a big disadvantage but they’ve made up a much smaller sample of runners as the middle draws in eight runner fields contain just two of the eight runners, those from stalls 4 and 5. They have the second best place percentage and although middle draws provide the worst PRB, it’s only 0.01 worse off than low draws and 0.02 less than that provided by the high draws.

So overall the mile distance here looks very fair as far as the draw is concerned.

Pace

Twelve Runners

The size of the field can impact pace bias either way. Bigger fields on average will contain more pace than smaller fields but with more runners those that are held up are likely to be further from the lead than in a smaller field, therefore giving those runners even more ground to make up. In big field races where there is little pace on offer those held up are likely to be seen to worst effect.

There is a clear advantage here to being up with the pace with number of wins, places, EW PL and IV all decreasing the further back in the field you are. There have been forty-eight winners that have been held up or ridden in mid division in the above sample and forty-six have been front runners or prominent so plenty of winners do come from behind but that’s from a lot more runners.

Eight Runners

Are smaller fields going to make it easier or harder for hold up performers to get their heads in front?

Once again the number of wins, places, EW PL and IV all decrease the further back in the field a runner is positioned. The majority of the metrics are even more in favour of those up with the pace here compared to bigger fields which suggests that these smaller fields are often only moderately run at best.

Draw and Pace Combination

It's not always the case that low is good and high is bad (or vice versa) or front running is good and being held up is bad (or vice versa). Certain run styles are suited to different types of draw and this is where the draw pace heat maps on Geegeez Gold are absolutely essential for research.

Twelve Runners

We already know that racing nearer the pace is an advantage here but what this heat map is telling us is that those that race in mid division from either low or middle draws are actually outperforming those that lead from a low draw or are prominent from a high draw.

The best draw and pace combination from a PRB perspective is to lead from a middle or high draw or to be prominent or mid division from a low or middle draw.

Eight Runners

In the smaller field there seems much less difference between the run styles depending on the draw. Leading or being prominent from any draw is certainly no bad thing. Going further back though, if looking to back a horse from mid division a low draw seems essential.

12.10pm Lingfield Analysis

Pace is likely to play it’s part here so the pace map for this race is important.

We should be guaranteed some early dash here from habitual front runner Rivas Rob Roy. He seems likely to get an easy lead here so is of immediate interest, especially having run some good races here in the past. What is clear from looking at his form is he generally improves for a run and he hasn’t run for almost four months plus he seems better at 7f than 1m so hopefully his role here is just to ensure a half decent gallop.

Four Mile Bridge, who ran very poorly after a year off last time out, and handicap debutant Mirakhul are likely to follow Rivas Rob Roy early on. Mirakhul has barely done enough to even earn that handicap mark of 55 so he’s going to have to find some sudden improvement from somewhere to figure even if he is likely to be favoured by how the race is run.

The majority of the other runners are likely to be held up in mid division or rear so to find the best bet we will need to find a runner that has proven they can come from off the pace at Lingfield. It takes a runner with a good turn of foot to make up ground here so let’s find one.

Violet’s Lads was better than the bare result last time out after a wide trip but she didn’t seem to stay a mile on her last attempt here and doesn’t have the best overall profile, even in this lowly grade.

Casavola is fairly interesting on the basis her handicap mark has been decided on efforts at Chelmsford, where she hasn’t been seen to best effect trying to come from off the pace. She was well beaten there in two starts but those were strong races compared to this contest. She’s respected here but it’s almost impossible to figure out what kind of mark she’s been running to so she can’t be backed with any real confidence, especially as she's never run here either.

The two really solid options here are Good Luck Charm and Emerald Fox, who are amongst the best for course records as denoted by the Instant Expert below (Violet's Lads also comes out well on that score but those runs are at 7f).

Good Luck Charm could still be well handicapped on his run at Bath in July when 6th. He was beaten just over six lengths that day but the winner won his next start, the second and fourth have won twice since and even the fifth and ninth have won since. He’s now 4lbs lower than that run and returns to Lingfield for the first time since following up that Bath effort with a close 2nd here off a 1lb higher mark in August. He ran as if in form last time out at Kempton at a course that doesn’t suit quite so well and it’s worth noting that 2.25 lengths in front of Good Luck Charm that day, and only 1lb worse off here, was Emerald Fox.

Emerald Fox is lightly raced for a 5yo and has been in consistent form since the resumption of racing in June. She’s been better than the bare result on her last couple of runs but is most interesting on her run here in a classified stakes over course and distance in mid August. She was 2nd that day, 1.75 lengths behind Laurentia giving that runner 5lbs. Laurentia is now rated 18lbs higher whereas Emerald Fox is just 1lb higher. That form isn’t completely reliant on the subsequent exploits of the winner either, the 3rd also won next time out.

Both Emerald Fox and Good Luck Charm are likely to be positioned in mid division from their low draws, which isn’t a disadvantage according to the draw pace heat map, but Emerald Fox should be slightly more forward than Good Luck Charm which is another tick in her box. She’s therefore favoured for the win here, although I’ll be tempted to include this pair in a forecast in the hope that Casavola isn’t well handicapped here.

If you’re a fan of trainer/jockey combinations then Good Luck Charm should offer a decent each way betting opportunity at around 6/1. Gary Moore and Rhys Clutterbuck have a 40% strike rate from ten runs here in the past year. Seven of those runners have placed producing a 33.88 EW PL.

12.45pm Analysis

First let’s check out the pace map for this race:

Once again we should be at least guaranteed some early pace in this race from Dashing Roger. He should get an uncontested lead so will be of immediate interest here, especially as he’s been extremely progressive in recent months rising from a handicap mark of 74 in July up to 96 here, winning three races along the way. His form over this distance this year reads 12121 and he won here in March, albeit off a much lower mark. He was arguably flattered to win as he did last time out on heavy ground so he does have to prove he can still mix it in better company off an 8lb higher mark.

Silent Attack and Astro King are likely to track the pace that Dashing Roger sets. Silent Attack seems equally effective over the 7f he ran well at last time out (in a class 2 handicap here) or over a mile, which is the distance he won his last race at, which just so happened to be here off this mark. He’s at his best seemingly in small fields, which he gets here and although he doesn’t have as interesting a profile as many of these he is at the very least sure to give his running.

Astro King is the early favourite thanks to a lightly raced profile for a powerful trainer with this type. Sir Michael Stoute’s runners are nearly always well found in the market here but that hasn’t stopped his handicap runners producing a level stakes profit on Lingfield's polytrack over the past five years, he also has a strike rate of 25%. Soft ground probably didn’t suit last time out and he seems at least reasonably handicapped on his previous form on artificial surfaces. This is a sharp enough track to be dropping back in trip by two furlongs though and whilst he’s potentially the most likely winner, his price is short enough.

Oh This Is Us is very interesting, more so than his price suggests. He finished near last on his latest start, behind Silent Attack, but was only beaten 2.5 lengths and he was slightly short of room and eased up with half a furlong to run. Crucially that run came over 7f and although he had just won over that trip at Chelmsford, round here he seems much better suited by a mile. He only got up late when winning the 2019 All-Weather Mile Championships and that left him rated 113, he’s currently rated just 104. Other than his 2nd racecourse appearance as a 2yo, he’s unbeaten in two course and distance starts, the other victory coming in February 2019 winning a handicap comfortably off 110.

Plantadream is also interesting on his all weather exploits. He was last seen finishing 5th in a decent York handicap on desperate ground suggesting he is still fairly treated. His all weather record reads 121 and on his latest start here he won a class 4 handicap off 81 by 7 lengths.

Irreverent was 2nd last time out in a class 4 handicap and although he has a chance, he appears ridiculously short at an early 7/2. It would be no surprise to see that price drift considerably, especially when you consider he's never even placed in five attempts at class 2 level as shown in the Instant Expert below. Young Fire has had a good season but is likely to be given a lot to do and he is probably badly handicapped now. He's another with a poor record in class 2 handicaps. Meanwhile Pistoletto might just be making up the numbers.

Dashing Roger has almost everything in his favour and is a fair price early on (5/1) considering that but this mark might be just a bit too stiff for him to win this. On the other hand Oh This Is Us is well handicapped and despite being a hold up horse, he seems ideally suited by this course and distance so the disadvantage that many have being held up here might actually be an advantage for him. Hopefully the dead eight stand their ground in which case Oh This Is Us should make a nice each way bet here at an early 7/1.