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Racing Insights, 21st December 2020

Matt's turn today, taking over from Sam who himself was stepping in for the holiday-making Chris. What a team! 🙂

Saturday's shortlist included the 7/1 winner and 14/1 second (a tasty £98 forecast if anyone was smart/lucky enough to bag it).

Monday’s feature of the day are pace maps for all races, and those are free to all free registered users. The free races on Monday for registered users are as follows:

2.05 Lingfield
2.55 Newcastle
3.25 Newcastle

Today we'll look at the 2.55 Newcastle, a ten-runner Class 5 7f handicap contested by a number of familiar faces.

Before looking at the form of horses and trainers, let's first consider the shape of the race.

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As can be seen, hold up horses have historically fared best in handicaps at this course/distance/field size/going combination. At least from a P/L perspective. In fact, prominent racers have the highest impact value (IV) and, in what doesn't look a blazing fast race early, it might pay to be close to the speed: that's how it looks to me at least.

The heat map implies high numbers are favoured, though a look at the draw tab shows that, actually, it is probably more the case that low are unfavoured:

Remember, with IV we're  looking for a number greater than 1.0 to tell us that something is happening more often than might be expected. We can see that stalls 5+ fit that bill, and the lowest stall numbers are generally inconvenienced.

Let's now keep that in mind whilst looking at horse and trainer form.

Favourite is Glasvegas, a horse who finished last on his only prior Newcastle start. In fairness, that was in a Group 3 on his first run for seven months; but he was rated 96 that day and arrives here off 70, testament to his regressive form since. He has run better in recent starts - a pair of fourth placed finishes matching his best position since September last year. Back class aplenty but he's hardly lobbed in and looks poor value at a top price of 5/2 as I write.

Great Colaci is part of the furniture here, and has the Report Angles to prove it:

But he's a hold up horse drawn lowest of all in a race where prominent and high is optimal. I expect him to run well - as ever - but I don't want him on my ticket this time, for all that it would hardly be a shock if he prevailed a seventh time at the track.

Tukhoom represents David O'Meara, Danny Tudhope and another bunch of Report Angles:

These are all about trainer and jockey, but the horse does have some 'previous' here: he was third twice for Michael Herrington in 2018. Since moving to O'Meara he's won five from 29 and been in the frame another seven times. But... he's 0 from 12 on the all weather lifetime, for all that those numbers include six places. He's another I have to let beat me at the price, though he's well enough drawn and often races prominently.

Imperial Command is a lightly raced - just six starts - three-year-old and has already managed a win in handicap company. This is his first start for Daniel Mark Loughnane having changed hands for 12,000 guineas in the autumn. His sole AW spin was a poor one on his third start in maiden/novice company, perhaps with an eye to an opening rating. On balance, though, he doesn't excite, though his price - 7/1 - is probably reasonable.

Amazingly, Oriental Lilly is able to see Great Colaci's 21 Gosforth Park starts and raise him six! In her 27 spins here, she has managed five wins, but has fared no better than third at this course and distance. Those, however, were last time when she was beaten only half a length, and three back. Nine pounds below her last winning all-weather mark (and off the same mark as she last won on turf), drawn in the highest stall and with a prominent run style, she has a lot in her favour.

The Great Heir is 18 pounds below the mark off which he started the season and has run terribly in his only two AW runs - his most recent two races - albeit that those were on the 'Marmite' fibresand at Southwell: it's perfectly possible he just hates it there. But he's been beaten four lengths-plus in his last five races and looks not to have trained on since his juvenile season.

Trainer Mick Appleby is the king of the all-weather, and he has been in superb recent form: 14 winners in the last 14 days. He runs Lacan, a four-time winner in 2020 who has back class that still makes him potentially very well handicapped. He won over a straight mile in June and on Kempton's oval seven in September, so track and trip should not be excuses. But, as the RS column highlights, he's a hold up horse pure and simple: it might not set up for him today.

It's quite hard to fancy the other trio of Reckless Endeavour, Zafaranah and Confrontational.

Verdict

A typically competitive low-end all-weather handicap: just the sort of contest I love! Great Colaci will be plenty of people's idea of the winner and may further enhance his excellent track record; but it doesn't look an optimal setup with the smaller field, lack of obvious pace and low draw. I find it hard to fancy the current jolly, Glasvegas, whose back class was a long time ago and who has only been running 'okay' in recent spins for his new (and in-form) trainer. After that pair, it's 5/1 your pick so plenty to go at.

Credible cases at the prices can be made for each of Tukhoom and Imperial Command, but not so much - to my eye at least - for The Great Heir.

Oriental Lilly has been a while since winning, but has a fine chance given her predilection for Newcastle's tapeta and a kind draw/pace setup. She's currently 9/1 in a place and I think she ought to be bang there. She'll get first run on the closers and can hopefully hang on for a place at least.