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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.

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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

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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.