Monday's race somewhat fell apart before it started and further fragmented as it unfolded. Hats off the Geegeez-sponsored Anthony Honeyball who landed the race after Le Coeur Net was left with a virtual open goal 2 out.
Tuesday's free feature is the Shortlist report, whilst our free cards cover...
- 12.50 Southwell
- 1.55 Limerick
- 2.33 Fakenham
- 3.40 Newcastle
...and there's very little on the Shortlist, so we're off to to Norfolk, for the 2.33 Fakenham, a 7-runner, Class 3 Mares Handicap Hurdle for 4yo+ over 2m0.5f on good ground worth £8,187 and the card looks like this...
...where all bar Fantastic Ms Fox and Nordican Bleue have had the benefit of a run already this season, but those two haven't been seen for 14 and 9 months respectively and could well need the run!
Of the five with a prior recent run, Getariver and Midnights Gift bring the best form to the table and both feature at the head of the Geegeez ratings (just behind A Little Chaos). Now, a brief overview of the runners in racecard order...
Midnights Gift is running well this season (243 so far), drops two classes today and is a former course and distance winner. She's also a daughter of the mighty (but sadly departed) Midnight Legend, whose 4-8 yr old daughters sent off shorter than 10/1 in Class 3-5 handicap hurdles over 2m1f and shorter are 17 from 68 (25% SR) since the start of 2016.
Nanabelle is a very lightly raced 4 yr old who was comprehensibly beaten second/last time out at Cheltenham, coming home 10th of 17, some 27 lengths off the pace. It was, in fairness, her first effort for eight months so she might come on for the run, but she's going need some serious improvement to land this, despite a 4lb drop in weight. Her yard is in good form and has a decent record at this venue. whilst jockey Daryl Jacob is hot right now.
Hijran ran in that same race at Cheltenham and finished a further four places and 20 lengths behind Nanabelle. She's now 2lbs better off than Nanabelle, but logic says neither should win here! In her defence, the 7 yr old is 4 from 15 over hurdles including 3 from 7 in fields of 1-7 runners and 3 from 6 over today's trip. She's to be ridden by Ben Godrey who is more than useful with his 7lb claim (won today's featured race on Le Coeur Net).
Getariver is three from three in bumpers and has finished in the first three home in three of four hurdles starts (4th of 11 in the other). A decent runner-up finish last time out, going down by just a length over today's trip having been caught very late on. She represents Team Skelton where both yard and jockey have good individual and combined records here at Fakenham and are both going along nicely right now. Up a grade here today, though.
Nordican Bleue is 223121 over hurdles, all achieved in a 13-month spell for August 2018 and would be towards the head of my thinking, but for the fact that she hasn't been seen for 14 months having refused to line up on her intended return back in July! Yard and jockey have both been amongst the winners of late, whilst the rider has a good longer-term record at this venue. She might need the run and I'm not sure she has been well treated by the assessor for her handicap debut.
Fantastic Ms Fox was good enough to win a Listed contest back in January but was subsequently beaten by some 20 lengths in a Grade 2 at Kempton a month later. The Listed win will make her popular here, but I'm concerned about the near-nine month layoff, despite a distinct drop in class here.
A Little Chaos tops the the Geegeez ratings but will need to up her game here, based on her last run when beaten by 20 lengths on this track a month ago. In fairness, it was her first run for 573 days but this is a step up in class from that run. She now drops back in trip and is a former course and distance winner, so might be better suited to the task in hand.
My next port of call is, of course, the Instant Expert, which should tell us at a glance how these runners have previously performed in a set of circumstances...
...and the only real negative there is Nanabelle, so I'm dropping her from the proceedings at this point and therefore by my earlier logic I also need to discard Hijran before I look at how the race might unfold aided by the pace tab...
...where from a strike rate & profitability angle, backing leaders has proved successful. It looks like Getariver will look to get out quickly and stay there with A Little Chaos tucked in behind. As ever, there's going to be a pack travelling together waiting for mistakes or for a chance to kick on in the closing stages, but at the front is where you's probably want to be.
So, where are we? I've already said I don't fancy Nanabelle and Hijran and I'm now going to disregard Nordican Bleue due to the layoff/rise in class/hcp debut etc and also Fantastic Ms Fox because of her layoff.
To back the above up, 4/5 yr old female handicap hurdlers win less than 3% of races at an A/E of just 0.37 coming off a layoff of eight months or longer.
I'm now left with my usual three-runner shortlist, which today comprises A Little Chaos, Midnights Gift and Getariver and I've very little between the last two, but have them both someway ahead of A Little Chaos.
I have a marginal preference for Midnights Gift over Getariver, as MG drops in class and is a former C&D winner, whilst Getariver is up in class today. The market neither pleases nor displeases me, as although I'm happy that it agrees with me, I'm disappointed that both of my preferred options are a little shorter than I'd hopes. My third best, however, looks very interesting at 9/1 and would be the one to be on should either of the preferred pair slip up.