Yesterday's piece proved to be a veritable curate's egg : good/bad in places. I suggested that Totterdown would attempt and fail to make all and then not even make the frame, which is exactly what happened as he ended up fifth of seven finishers. My initial four against the field took three of the first four places, which is promising, but I didn't see the 17/2 Rockadenn winning, but he battled well to get up in the final strides to deny Pic D'Orhy.
Wednesday's 'feature of the day' is the excellent Trainer Statistics Report, whilst our full free racecards are for the following contests...
- 1.45 Doncaster
- 3.30 Doncaster
- 4.45 Ludlow
- 7.15 Kempton
And with heavy ground still prevalent in some places, let's head to South Shropshire for the 4.45 Ludlow, a 9-runner, Class 3, heavy ground, handicap hurdle over two miles. The winner will receive £5,913 for their troubles and will be one of these...
Based on the form shown above, I'd expect Robinshill to be very popular here (odds on possibly), but there could/should be scope for a decent priced E/W pick, which is what I'm looking for today, so let's look at each runner.
Nordic Combined carries top weight here, he's also top of the Geegeez ratings and has won over a similar trip to this on heavy ground less than a year ago. That however, was in a lower grade than today and is still his only win in 19 attempts over hurdles. He has made the frame seven times in total, but hasn't looked up to the task in recent runs and doesn't find much under pressure.
Ey Up Rocky was a winner last time out when scoring over 2m4.5f on good to soft ground at Newbury, Unfortunately, that was almost two years ago now and he's up in class and weight (+8lbs) and could be forgiven if needing a run. He won his only bumper start and has two runner-up finishes over this kind of trip since, but flopped on his only soft ground run. The lay-off, a rise in class/weight and the first time run on heavy should all be too much here.
Robinshill is more than useful in this sphere, a career record of 10 wins from 36 includes 6 wins from 25 over hurdles and he comes here seeking a hurdling hat-trick and a 4-timer overall. He won here over course and distance in a chase last time out and runs here 7lbs lower over hurdles. He's 4 from 8 here at Ludlow, has won on heavy, he's 9 from 21 at 2m/2m0.5f, 5 from 12 at Class 3 and 6 from 14 going right handed. He's the one to beat here.
Gerolamo Cardano is one from five over hurdles so far, winning a heavy ground Class 5 contest at Hereford over 2m1f on debut last January, which he followed up with a decent run in third in the Grade 2 Finesse at Cheltenham three weeks later. Sadly he hasn't kicked on from there, since finishing last of 6 (beaten by 36L) at Haydock at Class 2, then he was pulled up in the Grade 3 Fred Winter at last year's Cheltenham Festival. Ten months rest was then taken, but he struggled on his reappearance in the Lanzarote (Listed) at Kempton last month, finishing 15th of 20, some 46 lengths off the pace. Down to a mark of 124, he's probably still too high to get involved here, despite the drop in class.
Deniliquin also drops down in class here after finishing last of 7 (bt by 47L) at Hereford in December on his first outing for 2 years and 5 days. prior to that he was beaten by 24 lengths on his UK debut and despite him being 1 from 1 in France, he's not one I'd have much confidence in.
Eddiemaurice is an interesting one at 10 yrs old, as he now drops down to the same mark as his last win, which was on heavy ground at Newbury 13 months ago. He hasn't been overworked since then, running just four times and he has been rested for the past eight weeks or so. He's 5 from 32 over hurdles, has made the frame here at Ludlow, doesn't mind the mud and 2m is his preferred trip. Although most of his best form is at Class 4, he has won better races than this one in the past.
Star of Rory hasn't quite hit the heights of last season, which ended with him winning here at Ludlow on soft ground. He returned to action at Cheltenham in October after eight months off and ran creditably in a 10 length defeat, but fell at Warwick and was only third of six last time out. He's second on the Geegeez ratings, though and of his 3 from 14 hurdling record, he's 1 from 1 here, 3 from 7 on soft/heavy, 2 from 3 going right handed and 3 from 9 with his tongue tie.
Lisheen Castle is another who hasn't been seen often or for a while. It's actually 750 days since he last ran and this will be only his third start over hurdles. He did win on his hurdling debut just over two years ago and followed that up with a 5 length defeat a month later when up in class. He's up in class again here and has changed hands and although Emma Lavelle is great at getting her horses to perform in the mud, you have to worry about the boy's fitness after such a lay off.
Olympic Honour carries bottom weight here and is third on our ratings, but has been largely disappointing since wining at Fakenham back in December 2019, losing five times since. The middle run of that five race block was decent until he blundered the last hurdle when in contention, causing him to finish as runner-up, beaten by nearly 9 lengths. The run up to the mistake showed he does have ability but the other four recent runs have seen him beaten by 24, 18, 19 and 26 lengths and he now steps back up in class off a mark that sees him 2lbs worse off than LTO.
There's not a great deal of quality in the above and it really shouldn't take much for the assumed fav to land it, but we do need to find the placers. Instant Expert might help us do that...
The only real blemish against Robinshill is his record on heavy ground. Nordic Combined catches the eye for 5 places over this trip and he's also made the frame in both heavy ground runs on the flat. Eddiemaurice has a red-free line of figures from a place perspective and Star of Rory is also interesting on heavy ground. Ey Up Rocky is up 8 lbs from his last win, which isn't helpful, whilst Eddiemaurice has now dropped to his last winning mark.
I've looked at the pace stats for similar contests and they suggest leading or racing prominently is the way forward here, which should also play into the hands of our favourite, a confirmed front runner...
...but it doesn't give us much assistance in sorting out the places. I suppose Deniliquin's best chance of making the frame might be to chase Robinshill for as long as he can and then hope to hold on as the pack eventually close in, much will therefore depend on how quickly the Twiston-Davies team want to go off. Of the remainder, Nordic Combined raced prominently in three races on the bounce prior to a hold up run last time out, which just happened to be his worst run for some time, so he might well be asked to step forward.
I think Robinshill wins this fairly comfortably, I'd expect him and his very able jockey to be able to pretty much choose the margin of victory. Deniliquin may well set off in pursuit, but I don't see him making the frame.
For an E/W or place only bet, I think I'm most interested in the likes of Nordic Combined if he steps forward like he has before last time out, Star of Rory based on his heavy ground form and Eddiemaurice now down in weight and his general showing on the place element of Instant Expert. I think all three have a good chance of making the frame and I'd probably have them in that order although they are much of a muchness.
Now, I take my first look at the market and Robinshill is predictably a short favourite at 6/5 with Hills (already odds on at Bet365!), whilst my three potential placers are 14/1, 14/1 and 10/1 respectively.