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Racing Insights, 2nd March 2021

The Shortlist report is freely available to all readers on Tuesdays and our free races of the day will be the following...

  • 1.00 Catterick
  • 4.00 Newcastle
  • 5.20 Gowran Park
  • 6.30 Newcastle

The first of the two Newcastle contests is the most valuable of the four free races and it looks an interesting/tight contest with any number of possible winners at first glance. So, without too much further ado, let's take a look at the 4.00 Newcastle, an 8-runner (hopefully staying that way for E/W punters), Class 2 A/W handicap for 4yo+ over 2m0.5f on the Tapeta. The top prize of £12,938 will end with one of these...

Who Dares Wins carries top weight off a mark of 104, was a class, course and distance winner here way back in June 2019 off just three pounds lower. Had struggled in five contests after a 2m5.5f win at Ascot last June but showed signs of a return to form when only beaten by a neck in another Class 2, 2m0.5f Tapeta handicap at Wolverhampton a fortnight ago, staying on well.

Island Brave has two wins and a place from his last six runs, he has 7 wins and 3 places from 19 on the A/W and won over class, course and distance here last time out. He has been afforded the luxury of an 80-day break and is only up 3lbs for that last run, but is now on a career-high mark and he did only win by half a length, though, in another tight contest (first six separated by 3.5L). Yard is 11 from 49 (22.5% SR, A/E 1.46) on the A/W here and jockey Martin Dwyer is 5 from 18 (27.8% SR, A/E 2.54) for the yard in handicaps over the last year.

Rare Groove makes a rare appearance having not been seen in over 18 months since being beaten by a neck in a 17-runner Class 2 handicap over this trip at York. He's had no favours from the assessor, as his mark remains unaltered from that last run. He has a win and two runner-up finished from three previous visits to this track and under normal circumstances he'd be in the mix off a mark of 96, but the lay-off probably means he needs the run.

Stargazer produced his best run in six last time out, when beaten by just over half a length at Wolverhampton a fortnight ago, finishing behind Who Dares Wins. He's up a pound for that run and is now some 6lbs higher than his last win, but he does have a good record here (22212138) despite going down by 6.5 and 7.5 lengths on his last two visits.

Carnwennan is a pound higher than when a half-length runner-up in this race last year, but hasn't acquitted himself too well in just four starts since. His lack of form and the scarcity of runs suggests something might not quite be right with him, but he is a former course and distance winner. Last time out, he was beaten by 21 lengths off this mark at Wolverhampton, so a dramatic improvement is needed here, but his trainer is 6/23 here over the last year, his jockey is 3/15 over the same period and they are 3 from 12 as a partnership.

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Notation is miles clear on the Geegeez ratings and comes here off the back of three wins and two runner-up finishes from six runs on the A/W and now steps up in class and trip for a first visit to Newcastle. Easily the most progressive in the pack here and if adapting to the new race conditions, might be difficult to peg back, especially if allowed to dominate like so many Mark Johnston horses do.

Cosmelli won here over C&D seven starts ago back in July and was a runner-up over C&D three starts ago, albeit both runs were at Class 3. He was then beaten by 16 lengths over this trip stepped up to Class 2 at Wolverhampton finishing last of 11, beaten by 50 lengths over 2m at Class 3 last time out. His C&D form is encouraging, but those two most recent runs are a little off-putting. He doesn't come across as the reliable type and basically didn't run last time out. Yard and jockey are both struggling for winners (0/16 and 0/11 respectively over the last fortnight), so this one is probably best left alone.

Jedhi returns to level ground after failing to make the frame on four efforts over hurdles and now tackles the A/W for the first time since June 2019. She's never gone further than 1m6f on the A/W and her sole win away from the turf came as far back as August 2018, when she landed a Class 5 handicap over a mile and a half. her career best effort came off this mark when winning by a nose back in July 2019 and after three months break, she's better off just watched.

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Instant Expert suggests...

...Who Dares Wins, Island Brave and possibly Notation are best suited here, but only Cosmelli and Jedhi look out of it. Rare Groove's mark of 96 looks a concern at 15lbs higher than his last comparable win and the same can be said against Jedhi.

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The draw stats here tell us that other than what looks an anomalous figure from stall 3, that it's best to be drawn out in 6, 7 or 8, although I'm admittedly a little sceptical about the draw over two miles from the finish...

And for those not lucky enough to get a high draw, it seems best to drop back from a low draw or to get on with it from the middle: grabbing the rail I assume?

We already know the draw and we already know how best to run the race from a given draw, so let's see how our runners fit into that heat map...

The win percentages for the four running styles are all pretty similar if truth be told and based on that closeness and my reluctance to add too much weight to a draw in a 2m+ contest, I'm not over-convinced the traffic light system is as relevant as usual (don't forget, a single stat in isolation isn't always one to be relied upon!). What is apparent is that Notation is going to try and dominate from the off, the next two prominent racers are both outside her, so she should get a soft unchallenged lead. The question is how far clear can she get before the pack start to close on her.

Summary

I've think that I've already made it clear that Cosmelli & Jedhi aren't for me and that Rare Groove is going to need a run after so long off the track. Stargazer has run poorly as though something was amiss in his last two starts and I have concerns about Carnwennan's lack of form and recent activity, so almost by default without even saying I like any of the runners, I'm down to my "three against the field".

And they are Island Brave, Notation and Who Dares Wins. Island Brave is in form, showed well on IE, has a good pace/draw make-up, yard goes well at this track and the TJ combo numbers are good. Notation is young and progressive and looks like grabbing a soft lead which might be difficult to peg back, she's way clear on our ratings and she's used to winning, whilst Who Dares Wins just seems to have a solid all-round profile in the areas I've discussed.

Had WDW been in better form prior to last time out, I'd probably have sided with him, but my tentative preference here is for Notation. If she gets out and stays out, that could well be enough. As for the minors, not much in it to be fair, but Who Dares Wins edges it over Island Brave, who might just have too weight to carry.

To be honest, any of these three could win, but I'd be surprised if none did.

Racing Insights, 11th February 2021

On Thursdays we make the Instant Expert racecard feature available to all users for all races, including our 'Races of the Day', which for Thursday are...

  • 2.40 Kempton
  • 3.50 Thurles
  • 7.30 Newcastle

Not much to go at, thanks to the weather, and our three feature races include a jumpers bumper, an 18-runner maiden and a small field A/W contest that will probably have a short-ish favourite. Sub-2/1 favourites don't always win, though, so why don't we have a look at the 7.30 Newcastle and see if we can find enough evidence to support an alternative to the expected fav or maybe even lay the fav?

We start with some background stats that tell us that favourites sent off at Evens to 15/8 in Newcastle A/W handicaps over 6-7 furlongs are 32 from 103, a 31/1% strike rate that creates a loss at SP of 23.54pts or £22.85 for every £100 invested. Of those 103 favs...

  • those racing over 7f are 16/57 (28.1%) for -18.2pts (+31.8% of stakes)
  • those racing at Class 6 are 6/28 (21.4%) for -13.4pts (+47.8%)
  • and those racing over 7f at Class 6 are 3 from 12 (25% SR, A/E 0.58) for a loss of 5.5pts or 46% of stakes

Having seen the card already, I expect Bobby Joe Leg to go off shorter than 2/1, so let's assess his chances here...

Let's start with what's in front of us on the card, from left to right, we have them in weight/OR order. Bobby Joe Leg (BJL from hereon) is number two on the card, so he's rated second highest by the handicapper and will carry the second most weight before any jockey claims (no claim = still second). Only Broctune red is rated/weighted higher.

BJL is drawn widest of all in stall 7, which as you'll see further down the page isn't a disaster, but he could be better off more centrally (3 to 6 seems better).

On form, he stands up well with a runner-up finish two starts ago and a win last time out, but Broctune Red betters that by winning both of his last two starts after a runner-up slot three races ago.

Like Moxy Mares and Cmon Cmon, BJL drops in class today and he's also one of just three runners to have won over course and distance, along with the afore-mentioned Cmon Cmon and also Mudawwan. Broctune Red and Dramatista are former winners here at Newcastle, but have never won over 7f, whilst Moxy Mares and Katsonis have won at neither track nor trip.

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The whole field have raced in the last 6 to 14 days, so no long lay-offs to worry about here. BJL's trainer has the 30 by her name signifying good recent form, as do the trainers of Moxy Mare and Broctune Red (both have positive 14 & 30 day form), whilst the latter's yard also have a good past record on this track (C1 C5).

With regards to jockeys, only BJL's rider has any positive icons (30 C5) and the final column, SR, the Geegeez Speed rating has BJL out on top, but he's not far clear of Broctune Red (74 vs 72).

Based on the card information, BJL looks to have a good chance, but it's far from a given and several others have also caught the eye.

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Next up, Race Suitability ascertained as always by Instant Expert, by far the easiest way to assess all runners' records together at oncce at Going, Class, Course, Distance, Field Size and weight comparison vs last win...

...working on the traffic light system of Green is good, Amber is caution and Red is not so good, Broctune Red stands out here, as does Cmon Cmon ahead of both BJL and Dramatista, so our likely fav isn't the best on this section at all.

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Draw and running styles are our next areas for critique and I've looked at 5 to 9 runner contests, purely to get a few races in the sample (there aren't enough 7-runner contests to be able to rely upon the data). High draws have fared marginally better, but there's not a lot in it really, so stall 7 on its own shouldn't make or break BJL's chances, as you can see here...

And if we're not over bothered about where they break from, then it's quite possible that race positioning will be more important and the data tells me that Mid-Division is not a good place to be generally. Just 2 of 27 runners (7.4%) have won from there, landing just 7.1% of the 28 races analysed, whereas 80 prominent runners have won exactly half of the 28 races at a strike rate of 17.5% and they've grabbed most of the place money too!

When we combine draw and race positioning (aka pace), a more informative picture appears and it basically tells us that if you're drawn low, you need to race prominently or even lead. Mid-drawn horses are best raced prominently, whilst from a high draw, it's probably best to let someone else inside lead and you tuck in behind. This graphic explains it better, of course...

So, by this point we already know the draw and we know where we want to be drawn allied to our race pace and thanks to logging past performances, we can tell you how we expect these runners to break based on recent runs. We can overlay these recent running styles to the pace heatmap above and this is what we get...

...quite possibly a falsely run race. There's no obvious pace angle, yet someone will have to lead. Mudawwan ran his best race for some time last time out and that was on this track when finishing fourth, but crucially he led that day and wasn't headed until 2f from home in a one mile contest, so he might lead again over this shorter trip.

It probably won't help him win, but it will enable the rest of the field to run heir normal races. BJL raced prominently last time out, as did Cmon Cmon in each of his last two, finishing 5th over C&D both times. However, I think he'll return to being held up here, as he was in back to back C&D wins prior to those 5th place finishes.

This bit isn't an exact science, but I'd expect Mudawwan to lead out from stall 5 and possibly drag BJL along with him, allowing Broctune Red to sit in just behind.

So, who wins? Well, I don't think BJL will be far away, nor will Broctune Red based on what we've seen so far. Minor honours will probably be disputed by Dramatista and Moxy Mares.

Summary

I set out to see if the sub-2/1 favourite Bobby Joe Leg was worth taking on and here's where it gets interesting. I think he wins the race here (just), but having seen the market, he's not the favourite : Broctune Red is! So I'm siding with BJL at 11/4 (Hills) to beat the fav.

BJL was comfortable when landing his third C&D win last time out and is only raised 4lbs for that effort, whilst Broctune Red only just won here off a mark of 55, he's now off 65 and the jockey can't use the 5lb claim from last time out, making a big weight difference here.

Dramatista is probably marginally better than Moxy Mares for third place, but it's only 2 places for E/W bettors, so the bigger price for Moxy Mares might sway you.

Racing Insights, 28th January 2021

Yesterday I said that..."I don't see much between Perfect Rose & Vivency for the win...I think I'd rather back her (Vivency) at 10/3 than the fav (Perfect Rose) at sub-2/1..." Vivency got up right on the line to deny perfect Rose by the shortest of short heads to land me a 10/3 winner, whilst the Exacta paid almost 8/1 for those of you who jumped on that too.

Things don't always go to plan, so it was nice to take another few quid from the layers today.

Thursday is almost upon us and the feature of the day is access to Instant Expert for ALL races, including our races of the day, which are...

  • 12.53 Fakenham
  • 2.20 Gowran Park
  • 3.10 Wetherby
  • 6.30 Newcastle

And I'm going to use the place element of Instant Expert to assess whether a couple of expected non-favs from Thursday would be likely to make the frame in what would appear to be favoured conditions, starting with a runner in the 1.55 Fakenham...

Aintree My Dream is now what we'd call a veteran at 11 yrs old, but he's not the old boy in this race that also features a pair of 12 yr olds. He's also not showing any real signs of slowing down, despite having lost each of his last 15 races (12 over fences). I say he hasn't slowed down, because he has finished in the first three home in eight of his last ten starts and has been the runner-up in his last two outings.

Beaten by just half a length over 2m4f on heavy on the 1st December, he then went down by a length and a quarter over the same trip but on soft ground at Sandown. Trainer Milton Harris is three from five over the past week, so he seems to have his string well tuned and in the shape of the wily/experienced paddy Brennan, we have a jockey who has made the frame in 18 of 35 starts over the past month  :very handy when we're looking for a placer.

Aintree My Dream's career record includes the following, based on placed finishes...

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...and these are tremendous figures for a horse that has raced 29 times in total, making the frame on 14 occasions (48.3%). In addition to the above, his place record also includes of relevance here...

  • 11/21 with no headgear , 9/22 when not the fav , 9/16 sent off at 6/1 and shorter
  • 9/12 off a mark of 121-130 , 9/16 in fields of 8-11 runners , 7/18 going left handed
  • 6/12 in hcp chases , 5/12 after 16-30 days rest , 4/7 on heavy ground
  • 4/6 under today's jockey and 3/4 in January.

So, I'd say he has conditions to suit. My main reservation at this point is the fact that he's a confirmed hold up horse making his first ever visit to Fakenham, where hold up horses can (and do) win their share of races, but from a larger number of runners than other racing styles, as seen here...

Clearly 2 from 12 from leaders is far better than 2 from 26 held up, but I did mention the skewing of sample sizes yesterday regarding what is a true hold up horse as opposed to a slow one, so whilst I have reservations, I wouldn't discount the horse just yet. Something to think about, whilst I...

...take a look at one in the 6.00 Newcastle...

Boma Green is far less experienced/exposed than our first highlighted runner of course, as this 4 yr old has only raced seven times to date. he has yet to win, but has made the frame five times (71.4%) so far. He was a modest third at this class/track three starts ago when finishing third over 7 furlongs, beaten by 7.25 lengths, although the runner-up has since won another C5, 7f contest, albeit on soft ground.

Boma Green then stepped up in both Class and trip (C4, 1m) for a decent runner-up finish at Kempton when only beaten by a length and a quarter, so much more was expected of him in his last run (New Year's Eve) at Lingfield when sent off the 7/2 second favourite. Sadly he could only finish 8th of 11, beaten by nearly five lengths having weakened badly in the last of the seven furlongs off a mark of 76. He's down a class and a pound here, but back up a furlong.

Both his yard and his jockey have good records here at Newcastle, although they rarely team up here :  this will be just the fourth occasion.

We know that this horse has placed in 5 of 7 starts and they include...

He has placed in 2 of 4 A/W starts with his 3/3 on the Flat suggesting he's better on grass. He's 4 from 6 for this yard, 4 from 4 on a straight run and 3 from 4 at 16-30 days rest. He has also made the frame in 5 of 6 starts with no headgear, but wears cheekpieces for the first time here.

He's not one to lead if he can help it but does like to race prominently, which is a tactic that usually works well here...

...and whilst that looks good for him, he isn't particularly well drawn in stall five and there's no real pace in the race, meaning he might have to take it on for himself or suffer in a slowly run tactical affair. Here are the draw stats....

Summary

Aintree My Dream is currently 3rd fav at 6/1, I've got him as second best and roughly as far away from the winner as he is clear of the my third ranked horse. I agree with the market that Golden Whisky is the most likely winner and whilst 6/1 about Aintree My Dream is too short for me personally from an E/W perspective, I certainly expect him to make the frame. It might be worth putting a place bet on the exchanges or doing the forecast. Shanacoole Prince is interesting as a double-digit odds E/W punt, as he's better than his last run suggests.

Boma Green is also a 6/1 third fav right now, but he's not for me. I don't think the race is going to pan out as he'd like, I expect it might become a tactical affair and he will possibly get run out of it. There are two that do interest me for making the frame at decent odds, Jewel Maker and Traveller, but I'll be leaving Boma Green alone.

Monday Musings: Newcastle helping the rich get richer?

For decades they said it. The north needs an all-weather track. Just over six years ago the announcement that Newcastle racecourse would indeed be tearing up its turf and replacing it with an all-weather circuit which would include a straight mile was greeted incredulously, writes Tony Stafford.

At the forefront of the criticism were some of the biggest trainers in the sport. Articles in late August 2014 by Greg Wood in the Independent and Chris Cook in the Guardian quoted, respectively, John Gosden and William Haggas, although others such as Mark Johnston, Sir Michael Stoute and Ralph Beckett were equally critical.

Gosden told Wood: “This is sacrilege. There is a requirement for an all-weather track in the north of England but Newcastle is emphatically not the solution. Racing on a one-mile straight as betting-shop fodder under lights will produce one-dimensional boat races.

“British racing requires upgrading and the destruction of one of the best turf courses in the UK is sacrilege,” Gosden re-emphasised.

Haggas spoke to Cook as the big-players’ campaign to prevent the change gathered momentum. Presumably the fact they were resisted by ARC (Arena Racing Company) was quite a surprise. Several of the same group were equally vocal in their criticisms of recently-departed Nick Rust at the start of the Covid pandemic back in the spring.

Regarding the Gosforth Park transition, Haggas told Cook: “The only way to stop it is not to support it <in other words a boycott>. The north does need a track nearer than Southwell but surely this <Newcastle> isn’t it.” He went on: “Field sizes will suffer as the horse population shrinks and opportunities there increase. Johnston and Fahey won’t want to come down <to the existing all-weather courses in the south>.”

Indeed, Haggas went so far as to say that, if ARC did get their way to have the new all-weather track replacing the turf Flat course, they would almost certainly respond by closing one of their other tracks.

Anyway, history tells us that with a Michael Dickinson-inspired Tapeta surface, the switch did indeed happen, and no other all-weather track has closed.

Then on November 28th 2016, “Mr Sacrilege” chose Newcastle ahead of Kempton, Lingfield, Southwell , Wolverhampton or the recently re-opened Chelmsford for the debut of Enable, the best horse to race in the UK, never mind ratings, since Frankel.

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There were seven all-weather fixtures at Newcastle in the final month of 2020. Understandably Mark Johnston was, as ever, represented but in eight novice or condition races in the period Haggas, Gosden, Beckett and Stoute’s staff all loaded up the horseboxes for the 486-mile round trip. It would have been more like 600 miles for the Beckett runner, a December 12th novice winner from a Haggas odds-on shot with Gosden and Johnston runners following him home.

On the first day of December, a ten-furlong two-year-old novice was won by one of two Charlie Appleby Godolphin runners with Gosden, Johnston and Gosden again the next three home. Fifth and sixth were Charlie’s, Fellowes and Appleby. Three days later, David O’Meara struck a rare winning note for the locals in a six-furlong juvenile novice, with a Haggas favourite only fourth.  A three-year-old novice later on that card fell predictably to a Saeed Bin Suroor-trained 5-1 on shot for Godolphin.

There was no Newmarket-trained runner in the novice on December 15th but six days later Sir Michael Stoute stepped in with an odds-on winner, beating a Roger Varian runner with Haggas again well beaten in fifth.

On December 28th the sole Newmarket runner in the novice for three-year-olds and up so emphatically outclassed the ten northern hopefuls that it started at 3-1 on and won comfortably for Charlie Fellowes.

The north might have got its all-weather track but I’m sure the last thing the trainers handling the fortunes of 179 stables of the 595 listed in the 2020 Horses in Training annual as being based north of the Trent, are finding it all that satisfactory.

William Haggas warned that Mark Johnston and Richard Fahey would no longer send their horses south, but from the moment he and John Gosden realised that however good Gosforth Park had been as a Flat turf track, it was at least as good for all-weather, the die was cast.

So much so that when the 2019 Vertem Futurity at waterlogged Doncaster needed a home in November last year, Newcastle stepped in to stage its first Group 1 race. That its winner, Kameko, went on to win the 2,000 Guineas next time out could only encourage the big shots to keep coming.

I could easily have miscounted the number of trainers operating north of the Trent on my one-time slow-motion read through yesterday and the location of some of those towards the west of the country might be questionable. What is fact is that almost 30% of UK trainers are relying on Newcastle for their chance to get some winter prizemoney.

The two major training centres in the north are Middleham, home among many others to Johnston, and Malton, where Fahey trains.  From Middleham to Newcastle involves a one-way trip of 60 miles. It’s around 84 from Malton.

As Gosden said those few years ago, they needed somewhere nearer than Southwell, 106 miles from Middleham. When the Johnston lorries wheel out of Kingsley House or Kingsley Park in the mornings their travelling lads face trips of 231 miles (one-way) to Chelmsford, 254 to Kempton and 274 to Lingfield. It’s a relatively short hop of 160 miles to Wolverhampton.

The West Midlands track has already been busy this year with a fixture in a snow storm on Saturday evening. Today will be the first of four consecutive days and five more before the end of the month will bring its tally up to ten January fixtures.

That will be exceeded by Lingfield with 11, followed by Southwell, eight, and Kempton with six. There are only three planned for Chelmsford, two fewer than Newcastle’s five. The only snag is the programmes at Newcastle are not very northern-trainer-friendly.

Of 35 planned races (usually one or two per meeting can be divided) there is a bias towards high-rated handicaps which does not help many of the smaller trainers based in the region, where most small stables rely on second-hand moderate animals.  Of the 35, only seven cater for horses with an upper limit of 60 – two are 0-50 (including one classified), three of 46-55 and two 46-60. Most of these are at the end of the month.

Contrastingly, there are ten opportunities for horses rated from 61 to 95 and nine more for those from 51-75. Eight conditions or novice races will keep the wagons rolling north from Newmarket and beyond.

Wolverhampton’s next four days feature 31 races, and 14 of them are in the 0-60 brackets with five catering for 0-50 horses. As the BHA no doubt will say, northern stables can easily come down but while the richer owners with their horses in the top Newmarket stables can shrug off expensive travel costs and all-day absence of staff attending those horses, smaller operations are far less able to persuade owners to stump up high expenses for the chance of gaining modest prizemoney.

To put it in perspective, a horse trained near Newcastle, where there is no suitable target, will need to travel to the other tracks and undergo 150 miles to Southwell, 204 to Wolverhampton, 274 to Chelmsford, 298 to Kempton and a bumper 318 miles to Lingfield.

The respective distances from Newmarket are 50 to Chelmsford, 93 to Lingfield, 103 to Southwell, 105 to Kempton and a still-manageable 121 miles to Wolverhampton.

In 2020 John Gosden ran 168 different horses on all-weather tracks winning 62 races from a total 266 runners.  Nine of the wins came at Newcastle, including Palace Pier, winner of a conditions race on his reappearance in June, a race that provided the springboard for two Group 1 victories. He lost his unbeaten record when third in the Ascot quagmire behind The Revenant on Champions Day at Ascot, until which time he was regarded as the best miler in Europe.

So that is the sort of opposition the locals will have to contend with going forward unless something is done. I think it’s time that some of the vulnerable targets that can be so easily picked off are made a little more difficult.

Many years ago, there were a few races restricted to horses trained north of the Trent. Maybe it’s time to re-instate them so that maidens at least can become more competitive. True, that might mean that with fewer 5-1 on shots, the betting-shop cannon-fodder might be improved – imagine what long odds-on shots must do for turnover! – and northern trainers will be less frightened of getting too near horses that are almost sure to go on and be pattern-race performers.

There must be a case anyway that anything that helps restrict the further spread of Covid in these testing times is welcome. Scotland is in total lockdown but horse boxes can roll in with impunity from south of the border.

There is one person, apart from the former most vocal opponents of Newcastle’s remodelled track, who would be mortified if the traffic north stops coming up from Newmarket. Simon Mapletoft, often the course link at Newcastle, is beside himself with excitement when a Gosden, Haggas or indeed any of the other big HQ stables has a runner.

Still, as he commented the other day, Southwell will be switching to Tapeta soon, so he can look forward to getting just as reverent in Nottinghamshire before long as he has been in Northumberland these past few years.

Racing Insights, 28th December 2020

Matt for the final time, for now at least, in the RI chair.

Boxing Day's race was interesting, though not profitable for me. One of the flagged each way possibles, Twotwothree, which was backed from double digit prices to 9/2, won well. Meanwhile, Time To Get Up drifted from around 3/1 to almost double those odds and was never a factor; he did run on belatedly to snatch fourth and remains a dark horse, potentially for the tracker.

We've lost Leicester and Fontwell tomorrow but still, at time of writing, have Catterick, Newcastle, Leopardstown and Limerick to go at. Limerick was waterlogged today so we'll see if they're raceable on Monday.

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I've done my usual 8-10 runners, handicaps only whittling for the purposes of this piece, and have landed on the 4.35 Newcastle as a head scratcher worthy working through.

It's a race which revolves around the William Haggas-trained Sword Spirit, and she does look comfortably the most likely scorer. Easy winner of a 0-65 mile handicap at Lingfield last Monday, she turns out under the obligatory six pound penalty before being re-assessed on Tuesday: she's likely to get more than six for the handicapper's prior leniency. With just three runs to her name she has loads of upside and might be a lot better than these. But... she was beaten far enough on debut the only time she raced over a straight track and she's backing up quickly enough after that last race.

The opposition is largely exposed with the exception of Arabic Welcome, a Godolphin castoff having his first run for Marco Botti and only his third career outing. He clearly needs to step forward on 26 length and 12 length defeats; but both those races were over a mile and a half whereas this is a mile. Botti has strong figures both off a layoff and on trainer switch, as well as decent enough handicap debut numbers:

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But the yard is a little out of form and the jockey is very inexperienced: he gets to ride this horse which is owned by the trainer's wife.

There is a horse in here - a Newcastle stalwart - with a massive ten Report Angles showing up on my settings:. Yes, of course, it's the standing dish, Great Colaci.

Last time out, I was against him in this column has he was drawn low and held up in a race with little pace. Here, he's... drawn low and held up in a race with little pace! In fact, let's bring the pace into the equation at this point:

The projection is 'May Be Falsely Run', and we can see that none of the nine horses appear in the 'Led' column. That may again count against Great Colaci.

Instant Expert is below, on the two year AW handicap place view.

We can see that, as well as Great C, both Jewel Maker and Corked have strong course records. Jewel Maker's only handicap win was in Class 6, but he's run well in both this grade and Class 4: he's just short enough in terms of betting for a place if we presume Sword Spirit will be hard to beat.

Corked has also failed to win in Class 5, though has placed in half of her ten races in this tier. But she's also more of a ten furlong mare, as can be seen below, than a mile.

Moreover, her trainer is in dreadful form:

Rogue Tide has a course and distance win on his CV, and ran well at this level over track and trip, too. Elisha Whittington's five pound claim is decent but, drawn two and generally waited with, there are enough negatives to look elsewhere.

One I'm drawn to a little is Keith Dalgleish's Paddyplex. Both trainer and jockey Billy Garrity are in decent form, and this fellow has been running well in defeat in higher grade and over further. His last run over this course and distance was in March, where he was a close second in Class 4. He's seven pounds better off here, including the jockey claim, though it's fair to say that Silvestre de Sousa is an upgrade on Billy Garrity (and indeed most riders).

The appeal, quite aside from the solid place record in this grade, is that in a race where it is not at all clear who will go forward, Paddyplex has led and raced prominently. As such, he has a chance to try to steal from the front. Naturally, I'd expect at least some of his rivals to be wise to this tactic; but, given first run and good course/distance/class form, he looks over-priced.

Catch My Breath has a similar profile in that he raced prominently over course and distance last time and also has a kind draw; on that last day run he finished fourth, but only a length behind the winner in Class 4. He's been third or fourth in six out of seven straight track mile handicaps:

The outsider, Reclaim Victory, ran well over course and distance last time and can't be completely discounted with an ostensibly solid draw/run style combination.

Verdict

It wouldn't surprise me in the slightest if the favourite went off more like 1/2 than her current top quote of 4/5, and she might be a touch of value if you can/want to get on at that price.

I'm against Jewel Maker at the price, and Corked more generally, and I think Arabic Welcome has plenty to prove. Rogue Tide and Great Colaci may have the worst of the draw/run style matrix, so I'm finding Paddyplex and, to a lesser degree, Catch My Breath compelling each way plays.

I've backed Paddyplex at 14/1 (12's generally), and I've also backed him in a forecast behind Sword Spirit at around 16/1. I'm going to play the Sword Spirit / Catch My Breath forecast as well, and will look at the pair in 'without the favourite' markets in the morning.

- Matt

Racing Insights, 15th December 2020

Well, we nearly had ourselves an 11/2 winner today, but the gutsy Up Helly Aa King was headed after the last fence and went down by a length. The original favourite King Capard was indeed over-rated, Crank 'Em Up was the worst of the finishers, but the big surprise was the winner, Strong Economy who defied all stats/logic to win, but fair play to him for doing so.

And now somewhat belatedly (I've just got home from a 5pm appointment in Liverpool), Tuesday looms large on my horizon. Our feature of the day is the Shortlist report, whilst our free racecards will cover...

  • 12.35 Wincanton
  • 2.05 Wincanton
  • 2.45 Newcastle
  • 3.05 Wincanton

If I'm honest, I don't really fancy any of those four contests from a betting perspective, but there are a couple of high scorers at the top of tomorrow's Shortlist report, so let's take a look at them and assess their chances, shall we?

Maaward has never ran at Newcastle, but has an otherwise perfect score, whilst Athmad's only "weakness" is that he has fared best in 12-runner fields. Our job is to work out whether tomorrow's conditions will suit, starting with the 4.20 Newcastle...

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Maaward has two wins and a place from six all-weather runs, including two wins and a place from three on Standard to Slow going, a win and a place from two over a mile and one win from two at Class 4. Conversely, he has no run at all on a straight track, or under today's jockey or on tapeta! He's 0 from 5 overall when sent off longer than 6/4 and is 0 from 2 for this yard.

He has finished last of 11, last of 19 and last of 10 in his last three outings, beaten by 14L, 26L and 29L respectively with increasingly poor results despite his mark going from 95 to 87 to 80. He now sports a tongue tie (that's going to be some tongue tie if he gets him to win!) for the first time and runs off a mark of 72 here, which you hope would be light enough to beat something home?

His yard and jockey have both fared poorly at this venue, which doesn't inspire confidence, but he's drawn well (stalls 7-9 have won over half of similar races recently : 17 of 33) and his prominent running style suggests he might make a better fist of proceedings here.

*

And now onto our second tapeta contest, the 5.10 Wolverhampton featuring Athmad...

 

Athmad is in great form, finishing 1141 in his last four runs, all here at Wolverhampton in the last six weeks with two wins at 1m0.5f and a win over this 1m1.5f course and distance last out. having ran on the A/W just six times, his three wins from six is a healthy return including that 3 from 4 here at Wolverhampton, 1 from 2 at Class 4 and 1 from 1 at this this (CD LTO), whilst he's also 2 from 2 after just 8-15 days rest.

Instant Expert backs up those stats and unusually, the draw and pace tabs neither help nor hinder us based on the numbers above, but if you look a the draw stats more closely you'll see that the line does rise the higher the draw, but there's not enough in it for me to worry, when a high draw is 13.02% against a low draw of 11.83%. The lack of a significant draw bias means that the better horses have more chance of winning no matter which box they're in, but it also makes the pace analysis even more important.

The pace tabs tell a slightly different story with both prominent and held-up horses faring best, but leaders/mid-division runners faring less well. Athmad's 2.25 rating over his last four outing is skewed by a 1 rating in the race where he finished fourth having been held back too long and failing to catch the leaders, That aside the other three of his last four runs (all wins) came from prominent runs and I'd expect to see that continue today (the prominence, I mean!), Prominent runners are 68 from 166 (41% SR)  from those races above, which bodes well for our boy here.

Summary

A little shorter than usual, but I think I've covered the necessaries here. If Maaward isn't the worst in his race, he won't be far ahead of the one who is and at 40/1, the market agrees. I'd leave this one alone if I were you.

Different kettle of fish re : Athmad, though. In fantastic nick, he looks the best of the pack here and although this will be his toughest assignment yet, I feel he's got enough about him to get home again. Personally, I'd have liked a bit more than the 7/2 on offer from Bet365, but I've had a couple of shillings on anyway.

 

2020 Fighting Fifth Hurdle Trends

Sponsored by leading bookmaker BetVictor, the Fighting Fifth Hurdle is a Grade 1 race is staged at Newcastle racecourse.

Having first been run in 1969 the contest is often seen as an early-season trial for the Champion Hurdle, with the Nicky Henderson-trained Punjabi (2008) and Buveur D'Air (2018) the last horses to win both races in the same season.

The 2017 and 2018 Champion Hurdle winner – Buveur d’Air – landed this race in 2017 before going onto Cheltenham glory again in March 2018, while he also took the prize in 2018 and was second in 2019.

Here at GeeGeez we are on-hand to look back at past winners, and give you the key trends to look out for ahead of the 2020 renewal – this year run on Saturday 28th November 2020

Recent Fighting Fifth Hurdle Winners

 

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2019 – CORNERSTONE LAD (16/1)
2018 - BUVEUR D'AIR (11/8)
2017 - BUVEUR D'AIR (1/6 fav)
2016 – IRVING (6/1)
2015 – IDENTITY THIEF (6/1)
2014 – IRVING (6/4 fav)
2013 – MY TENT OR YOURS (8/11 fav)
2012 – COUNTRYWIDE FLAME (11/4)
2011 – OVERTURN (7/4)
2010 – PEDDLERS CROSS (9/4)
2009 – GO NATIVE (25/1)
2008 – PUNJABI (8/11 fav)
2007 – HARCHIBALD (4/1)
2006 – STRAW BEAR (Evs fav)
2005 – ARCALIS (9/4 fav)
2004 – HARCHIBALD (9/4 jfav)
2003 – THE FRENCH FURZE (25/1)
2002 – INTERSKY FALCON (11/10 fav)

Fighting Fifth Hurdle Betting Trends & Stats

18/18 – Won a hurdles race over at least 2m before
16/18 – Won at least a Grade 2 hurdle before
16/18 – Finished in the first two in their latest race
15/18 – Raced in the Champion Hurdle later that same season
15/18 – Won at least 4 times over hurdles before
14/18 – Placed favourites
13/18 – Officially rated 151 or higher
12/18 – Won their last race
11/18 – Ran within the last 6 weeks
10/18 – Placed in the top 6 in the Champion Hurdle later that season
8/18 – Favourites that won (1 joint)
6/18 – Won by an Irish bred horse
5/18 – Raced over hurdles at Newcastle before
4/18 – Won by an Irish based yard
4/18 - Trained by Nicky Henderson (4 of last 12)
3/18 – Won by a previous winner of the race
2/18 - Trained by Paul Nicholls (2 of last 6)
2/18 – Won the Champion Hurdle later that same season (2008 Punjabi, 2018 Buveur d’Air)
The average winning SP in the last 17 runnings is 6/1

Note: The 2008 renewal was staged at Wetherby, and the 2010 race at Newbury

 

 

 

 

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Racing Insights, 3rd November 2020

Tuesday's free feature is the simple but effective Shortlist report, whilst the daily free races are...

  • 1.25 Exeter
  • 2.33 Southwell
  • 2.55 Exeter
  • 3.45 Fairyhouse
  • 7.45 Newcastle

And I'm going to take a look at the Shortlist report to see if we can spot a winner for tomorrow from the following...

I'm going to assess three from the above and it makes sense to look at the 6.45 Newcastle race with two qualifiers and then I'll focus on the 3.10 Redcar for a bit of variety...

Twisted Dreams and Island Storm are numbers 8 and 9 on the racecard, as they are the bottom two in the weights. Island Storm comes here in the best form having finished 211 in his last three contests, all here on this track including wins over 7f at Class 6 and then a Class 5 course and distance success here last time out.  Island Storm, on the other hand, was also a class, course and distance winner here this time last year, but has failed to beat a rival since, finishing 6th, 6th and 10th, albeit in a higher grade over longer trips.

On the green trainer/jockey icons, Island Storm clearly holds the upper hand thanks to the yard's recent form and overall course success, but jockey Paul Mulrennan aboard twisted Dreams is in good nick right now.

Instant Expert essentially puts the shortlist information into numbers...

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and the obvious areas for discussion are Island Storm's 0 from 3 in fields of 8-11 runners and Twisted Dream's 1 from 4 at Class 5. In isolation, they're not good numbers, but the latter is 1 from 3 in the lower value (sub £3500) Class 5 contests and the former is 2 from 2 in 6/7 runner contests, whilst the Official ratings show Island Storm running off a mark 4lbs lower than his last win (and also his last run), whilst Twisted Dreams is up 6lbs for that LTO win, but at a Geegeez Speed rating of 62, he is top of the shop here today.

The pace/draw heat map for this type of contest isn't massively conclusive...

...but a high draw is definitely a positive here, but our pair are drawn centrally in stalls 4 and 5, but I suppose as long as they're not mid-division type horses, they'll not be out of it, so let's see...

...which suggests they'll both be keen to get on with it. Of the two, I have to prefer Twisted Dreams, as he looks to be progressing nicely, whilst Island Storm's lack of a win the last year is a serious worry. TD is of course up 6lbs, but looked like he had something in reserve. Incidentally, the third placed horse has already reappeared to over course and distance at a higher grade, whilst the runner-up reopposes here.

I'll decide how to play this shortly when I look at the market, but first I was to consider Finoah's chance in the 3.10 Redcar, which looks like...

The SR (Geegeez Speed Rating) of 69 is top rank in this field and the horse comes here on the back of a win last time out when he landed a class, course and distance soft-ground seller eight days ago, so conditions look ideal here. He was the best part of six lengths clear that day and has at least 4lbs in hand on all his rivals based on his OR of 82. Trainer Tom Dascombe and jockey Richard Kingscote have good individual records here at Redcar and I think everyone already knows that they're a formidable team together.

Instant Expert speaks for itself...

...and the field criteria is possibly the least important there. He has won three times in 8/9 runner fields and 7 is an arbitrary cut off point in my opinion. Form, going, class, course and distance all carry more weight for me, as often does the pace/draw angles...

He doesn't necessarily have the perfect draw for his running style here, but with the obvious exception of Twpsyn in stall 1, there aren't many in the ideal place on the heatmap.

That aside, he looks a real contender here, especially as from his reasonable 4 from 24 on the Flat, he is 4/19 in a visor, 4/8 on soft/heavy, 2/3 here at Redcar, 1/1 over this trip and 1/1 over course and distance. He is also 4 from 7 on soft/heavy in a visor, as he was when winning here last time out at odds of 4/9 and I wouldn't be surprised to see him go off that short again.

Summary

From the two in Newcastle race, my preference is for Twisted Dreams and although I expect traveller to run him close again (as might Rum Runner), I think bet 365's 4/1 pricetag is more than fair, so I'd be happy with a nibble at that. Island Storm isn't fancied at all, yet has the ability to get involved at a huge (currently 25/1) price, but he won't be carrying any of my money this time around, as I'm unconvinced he's as good as he was last year.

As for Finoah, here's a shock for you, I rarely back odds on shots and even more rarely do I advise others to back them, but at 4/5 there might actually be some value about him, I was expecting much shorter and I expect him to win.

Racing Insights, 30th October 2020

Chris highlighted the chance of Fanzio, a 7/1 winner available at a good bit bigger early, from three interesting runners on Wednesday; and with that he's taken himself off for a couple of days leaving me (Matt) to share a few thoughts in his absence.

Friday's racing is interesting, if tricky, and Horses For Courses report is the free feature. The six free races are...

  • 12.40 Down Royal
  • 12.50 Uttoxeter
  • 1.15 Down Royal
  • 3.30 Newmarket
  • 4.20 Uttoxeter
  • 5.30 Dundalk

There are a few 'hardy perennial' types on the H4C report...

 

...but, in spite of that, I'm heading to the last race of the day, the 8.15 Newcastle.

It's a six furlong Class 5 apprentice handicap down the straight track at Gosforth Park, where the going should be standard: the course was decompacted last week, making it ride slower, but there's been racing and rain since then, both of which help to tighten it up. According to the BHA site, the forecast is for a stiff westerly so, with the straight course running southeast to northwest - see image to the right - it'll be quite testing.

A full field of 14 are scheduled to leave the gate, and they are these:

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Let's start with the Report Angles, where both Lucky Lodge and Cloudea are worth a second glance. Lucky Lodge's angles come from the trainer / jockey partnership of Alan Brittain and Harry Russell, all of whose success has come in the past year. We can see that both handler and pilot have good records separately as well.

Messrs Fahey and Murtagh are also of interest when combining here. Jockey Connor Murtagh actually has a 4/26 record at the track (see below), and it is his handicap record that is highlighted in the angle above (16 runs, 3 wins) - the label should say that!

I Know How also has a couple of pointers towards its chance:

 

Next stop is Instant Expert, where the cases for Burrows Seeside and especially Lezardrieux are well advertised. Both are short enough in the betting; both for good reason. Neither Cloudea nor Look Out Louis has any form against the Instant Expert criteria in the last two years.

I Know How, who hasn't won in a full field (but has run well twice), has an otherwise decent profile; and Lucky Lodge also falls in here fairly consistently.

The pace setup might be instructive, especially considering that forecast head/crosswind. Historically, those who led have performed best though a win rate of around one-in-nine - albeit in 13-14 runner fields - is going to be a long time between drinks.

Lezardrieux figures to race on the stands' side and might get cover if anything goes forward far side; but, realistically, he'll be racing into the breeze. It might not stop him but it's something to be aware of, especially if the earlier races are favouring horses covered up. Burrows Seeside is likely to get plenty of cover with a middle draw and a later run style.

Reviewing Draw Analyser for the last two years suggests middle berths are slightly favoured but there's very little in it:

 

Summary

Pulling all of these strands together, nothing stands out as having an especially strong chance above all others. That said, I'm still attracted to Lezardrieux in spite of concerns about being out front in the teeth of the hooley: I'll be watching earlier races to see if horses are getting home off the lead before deciding to bet.

Lucky Lodge may get the worst of it on that far side with a prominent racing style, though of course there's always the chance that I'm massively over-stating the effect of the wind!

Cloudea is vaguely interesting in a throwaway sort of way. She won a moderate maiden last summer and hasn't been beaten far in three subsequent starts. Down in grade, this is her third start off a layoff and a penny play at 20/1+ might reward ambition.

But BURROWS SEESIDE may be the one. He looks likely to get the run of the race, was course and distance winner on his handicap debut last time - by more than three lengths, and has more progression than most of these after just four lifetime starts. He was still 5/1 with 888sport at time of publication, though shortening everywhere else.

A good few others with chances in an interesting race where the wind may be a key factor, or no factor at all!

Racing Insights, 20th October 2020

Very happy with the way Monday's race panned out. I initially eliminated four of the seven runners and my final three were the first three home. Had I been a bit braver, I'd be celebrating a 3/1 winner, but I'd wanted a bit more juice in the price.

So, with a moral victory of sorts behind us, let's move on to Tuesday, where the free feature is The Shortlist and the free racecards cover the following contests...

  • 12.25 Yarmouth
  • 12.55 Yarmouth
  • 2.15 Exeter
  • 2.40 Tipperary
  • 3.40 Fairyhouse
  • 4.20 Yarmouth

Of the six races above, only the Exeter one was of initial interest, but there's likely to be an odds-on favourite in there and the going is likely to see a few pull out, so I've decided to leave it alone and look at The Shortlist report to see if any of the runners featured might be worth sticking a quid (or more) on.

So, without further unnecessary ado...

A trio to consider with plenty of green to look at, so let's go in time order and start with Intrinsic Bond...

He has been in good form for some time now with 3 wins and 2 places from 7 runs over the last year (more on that shortly) and hails from a yard with three winners from seven (42.9%) so far this month and a decent record here at Newcastle including 7 winners from 33 (21.2%) this year, of which those racing over this course and distance are 3 from 7 (42.9%)

Next up, Instant Expert...

This is what gets him on the shortlist and over the last year, he has 3 wins and 2 places from 7 starts, including 3 wins and a place from 6 on a straight run, 3 wins and a place from 5 where the market deemed he had a chance, 3 wins and a place under Jason Hart, two wins and a place from four over 6f, two wins from three at Class 4, but just one placed effort in this grade and he won on his only previous visit to this track (over course and distance).

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He's drawn right out in 14 of 14, but that's not always a negative, as (a) there are no bends to contend with 9b) our pace/draw heat map suggests he could actually be in a decent spot out wide...

Overall, I'd expect him to be well suited to the task, but he's up 3lbs for a nice win on soft ground at Redcar last time out and also steps up in class. He handles the surface well enough and gets on great with today's jockey and his yard is in decent general form and also more long-term at this venue. Definite chance here.

And now to Skyace...

Trainer John Joseph Hanlon's runner here makes a second attempt at landing a handicap but the stats aren't good on that front, as the yard's stats with 2nd timers stands at just one win from the last 23 efforts, although that win was just 2 qualifiers ago. The hanlon runners are 4 from 15 (26.7%) here at Tipperary since the start of 2019, which is promising, but at 1/5 over hurdles, 0/5 in handicaps and 0/2 in handicap hurdles, the optimism does diminish.

But how might this one fare under today's conditions...

Well, he has two wins and a place from five efforts over hurdles, but after winning his first two, has struggled under weights of 11 stone-plus, toiling to a combined deficit of some 114 lengths in the three defeats since, but he's not on the shortlist for no reason, as his three placed finishes came in less valuable races like this one, he has won in a hood and did win here over course and distance.

In such races here at Tipperary, it has paid to remain in touch, but not race too prominently as shown below...

...but I feel a change of tactics would be needed here, as he has tended to race a bit more keenly of late and that's not going to be beneficial here.

Overall, he's out of sorts and represents a yard with a poor record with 2nd time handicappers and a poor record at this venue in this kind of race. He clearly has ability, but carries too much weight again here for my liking and I'm calling him as one to avoid.

Last up for today is Molly Shaw, who goes in one of our free races of the day, a 16-runner, Class 6, 6f  soft-ground "sprint", so you can see why I wasn't keen on a full race analysis of this one, but let's see if Molly Shaw might be in with a shout...

As the snippets show, the yard has done well here at Yarmouth over the past year, whilst Jack Mitchell has enjoyed plenty of success riding the Wall runners. Incidentally, on the trainer/jockey/course angle, the last five runners have finished 11152 including a win for today's runner back in August.

For her part, Molly is 113 in handicaps, all over a straight 6f strip including 2 from 2 at Class 6, 2 from 2 under Jack Mitchell and despite no run on soft ground, she did win her only attempt on good to soft ground.

Pace/draw-wise, it looks like wide-drawn prominent runners hold the key to success in this type of contest...

...and whilst Young John looks set to get out and make the pace, he's probably 20/1 for a reason and if our girl follows him, she could be expertly placed to pick up the pieces as the leader weakens late on, as reports from 5 of his last 6 outings suggest he will.

Summary

I've little/no interest in the Tipperary runner, there's not much in what I've seen that would make me believe he'll suddenly start winning again, but our other two runners have serious chances, but you'd want a price on them.

Both run in very competitive big-field contests and Intrinsic Bond is up in weight and class and is unproven at that level, whilst Molly Shaw has no form on soft ground at all. That doesn't mean she won't handle it, of course, but it's a big unknown. I expect both to give good accounts of themselves.

Both should be there or thereabouts and if she handles the ground Molly Shaw could be a nice pick at odds of 7/1 or hopefully better. Ideally I'd want at least 8's if not double digits, so you could then take a 4-place E/W run at her.

As for Intrinsic Bond, I do like him, but I'm not sure he's quite good enough at this level and he's already as low as 10/3 which is too short for my liking.

Racing Insights, 16th October 2020

On Fridays, the Horses for Courses report is free to all users, so let's take a look and see if there's anything of interest, shall we?

Obviously you can set your own parameters and the lower the required Win Strike Rate, then the more qualifiers you'll have, but I want to look at these with a record of 1 in 3 or better who have made the frame in at least half of their course appearances to see if they're likely to improve upon the figures shown.

I've merely arranged them in time order with no other reasoning and let's consider each in turn starting with Fact Flow...

On the plus side, this 11 yr old gelding has two wins and a place from six handicap chase efforts on this track, he has won twice in eight starts under today's jockey Robert Dunne and is two from seven in the lower prize funded Class 4 contests.

He is now running off a mark some 10lbs lower than his last win and despite this being a 17-runner contest, he did win a 16-runner affair here over 2m6.5f in 2018 and was placed third in his only previous effort over course and distance.

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However, he has no win in ten since scoring here over 2m4f back in November 2018 on good to soft ground and is 004 on soft. He has never won beyond 2m6.5f, has never won after more than four weeks rest and comes here having been soundly beaten by a combined 92 lengths in his last three contests.

Next up, we have Everyhouronthehour...

We've the bonus of an in-form (14) jockey with a good course record (C5) aboard this 4 yr old gelding who has finished 521419 in six starts here at Dundalk.

He recently won over a mile on turf at Gowran Park and ran a very good race as runner-up off today's mark at the Curragh, also over a mile when last seen almost three weeks ago.

In addition to that, he has finished 14191 when sent off shorter than 5/1, so the market seems to be a good judge of his chances, he has a win and a further place from three runs wearing a tongue tie and was a winner on the only previous occasion that Colin Keane was in the saddle (at Gowran two starts ago).

The downside is that he hasn't even made the frame when dropped into a 7f contest, finishing 059 with the last two of those coming here at Dundalk, but he does like to press on, so that might help here. He was a creditable second off today's mark of 62 last time out, but that's 5lbs higher than his previous highest winning mark.

And finally, we turn to Castle Quarter at Newcastle...

This 4yr old gelding is 13137 here at Newcastle, all over 7f and tries a mile here for the first time. He was only beaten by three lengths last time out when seventh here and has now been eased a couple of pounds in the weights.

He has won at this grade and is one from two under today's jockey David Nolan whose C1 icon signifies a good record on this track over the last year. It's interesting to see a return to cheekpieces after wearing blinkers for his last five runs, but he has run well with the 'pieces in place previously, finishing 183.

There is however a doubt that he doesn't "get" further than seven furlongs, having to failed to win any of his four attempts, but he does like this track and this might represent his best chance to win at a longer trip so far.

Summary

I personally feel that today has been a very worthwhile exercise in reinforcing the Geegeez message that you have to use stats as a starting point, but look beyond them before making a final decision.

On face value, the Horses for Courses report suggests we've three "live" chances for Friday, but my personal opinion is that you should leave all three alone : I'm certainly doing just that.

Fact Flow isn't getting any younger (I feel and share his pain) and probably won't have many more bites at the cherry, but if connections feel he's one more win in him, then the recent wind op will need to be a miracle worker. He's bang out of form and 33/1 for a reason. I'd expect him to finish nearer the back than the front.

Everyhouronthehour on the other hand is more than capable of winning, so why won't I back him? Well, taking 11/4 about him in a 14-horse contest doesn't float my boat from a value perspective, especially when ou consider he hasn't won at this shorter trip and is at a career-high mark. I think I'll pass, meaning he's likely to win!

And Castle Quarter is unproven beyond 7f and has only one win in ten at this grade. If there was such a thing or horse, he's a Class 5.5 runner or plain Class 6.  This is too much for him off this mark.

Racing Insights, 2nd October 2020

Yesterday's piece focused around a couple of prominent/front runners who featured well on the Instant Expert report and had a good pace/draw combination. As it was He's A Laddie made a right hash of the bend on his return from a long lay-off ruining both his own and the favourite's race in the process.

Drakefell, on the other hand, made a much better fist of it and although ultimately outclassed, certainly ran his own race and wasn't beaten by far. He was unable to get the lead I thought he'd need and as such was overhauled sooner than I'd have liked. That said at 12/1, he gave punters a good run for their money, missing the frame by less than a length and finishing less than 3 lengths behind the winner.

And that's the story from Thursday, now we move onto...

Friday 2nd October

Feature of the Day is the Horses for Courses report, which is free to all registered subscribers. Register here if you need to.

Friday's free Races of the Day are

2.35 Gowran Park
4.20 Gowran Park
4.55 Gowran Park
5.10 Dundalk
8.00 Newcastle
8.30 Newcastle

I've got to be honest here, I'm not a massive fan of 17-runner Irish hurdle contests (Matt says I'm a coward!) and the Dundalk meeting held little appeal to me either, so I'm heading for more familiar territory and a Friday night in Newcastle. Sadly, not down the Bigg Market or Riverside on the lash, but the five furlong strip of tapeta at Gosforth Park and the last race on the card, the 8.30 Newcastle.

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This race features three runners on the Horses for Courses report, so let's take a look at those three and see if one of them has any chance of adding to their already decent course records.

So let's show you the H4C report that highlights three runners of interest...

Report parameters are a personal choice of course, but for H4C I like runners with 10+ runs, a strike rate of 20% or higher and a place strike rate of around 50% if not better with a little leeway allowed on the place side of things to account for odd numbers of races if nothing else!

I think the above Newcastle stats are self-explanatory, but they don't factor in the trip, class or mark.

Another Angel has 7 wins, 5 places 17 over the 5f course and distance including 3 wins and 2 places at Class 5 and has finished 313 over C&D off marks higher than the 75 he'll run off here.

Young Tiger has 3 wins and 4 places from 13 over C&D, but all his wins have been at Class 6 and he'd actually need a career best to win here as, his highest winning mark anywhere is 3lbs lower than today's OR.

And finally, Be Proud, who I'd expect to go off as favourite, his C&D record is 2 wins, 2 places from 8 with both wins coming at Class 6 and his own highest winning mark is 62, but he races off 69 here.

So, for this part, I'd say Another Angel has the advantage. Let's look at the racecard itself...

...where despite being ridden by a jockey short of winners recently, Young Tiger edges it thanks to his yards record of 13 winners from 64 (20.3% SR) in A/W handicaps here at Newcastle and these include 3 from 14 (21.4%) over 5f and 4 from 22 (18.2%) at Class 5.

Next, we can look at the pace/draw heatmap...

...but I'd say that it was relatively inconclusive. Neither Young Tiger nor Be Proud are well drawn for their running style, whilst Another Angel is in a strange situation. If he was to press a little harder, he's very well drawn, but if he dwells at the start, he's probably toast. There are, however, a couple of confirmed front runners in the middle of the pack who might just drag Another Angel along for the ride.

Summary

Do I think either of my three featured runners will win?

Gut instinct tells me that Be Proud will go off as a favourite at 4/1 or shorter and could very well win, but I don't think there's any value in him at that price, especially with the improvement he'd need to show.

Another Angel has beaten both of them in the past but looks out of form and a bit too high in the weights for me. He could very well spring back into action and grab a place at 16's or bigger, but if I had to have a bet here : Young Tiger would be the one. His yard have done well here in the past and he rarely has a bad outing.

Five wins and seven further top 3 finishes from 15 runs over the last year or so show he's a consistent sort worth a second look. That's where I'd stop and I'd keep my money in my pocket, but if you did want a small punt for interest, then maybe see if you can get double digits each way about him.

The stats may not have led us to a concrete bet here, but that's a good thing, folks. It's very easy to get sucked in by a stat or two : the key thing is to recognise that not all stats are key or relevant.

Stat of the Day, 11th July 2020

Friday's pick was...

6.05 Bath : Pink Flamingo @ 3/1 BOG 5th at 7/2 (Held up towards rear, pushed along over 1f out, stayed on final furlong, nearest finish)

Saturday's pick runs in the...

4.50 Newcastle :

Before I post the daily selection, just a quick reminder of how I operate the service. Currently, I'll identify and share the selection between 8.00am and 8.30am and I then add a more detailed write-up later within an hour or so of going "live".

Those happy to take the early price on trust can do so, whilst some might prefer to wait for my reasoning. As I fit the early service in around my family life, I can't give an exact timing on the posts, so I suggest you follow us on Twitter and/or Facebook for instant notifications of a published pick.

Who?

Canagat @ 5/2 BOG

Your first 30 days for just £1

...in a 9-runner, Class 4, A/W handicap for 3yo over 1m on Tapeta worth £4,690 to the winner... 

Why?...

According to the racecard, this 3 yr old colt takes a drop in class from his last run 17 days ago and is of immediate interest, because...

He's drawn is stall 4 today and a quick glance at the pace/draw heat map shows...

I don't think any of the above needs explaining (but please do ask if something is unclear, I don't bite), whilst the horse himself has already proved to like an artificial surface...

He has finished 311 on the A/W so far, including one here at Newcastle (also Class 4 with Hollie Doyle on board, but over 7f two starts ago).

And the only thing I'm going to add to all of the evidence above is that of the Trainer/Jockey record of 6 wins from 13 here at Newcastle over the last year, seven of those races were handicaps over trips of 6 to 10 furlongs and the results are astonishing at 1111211 including Canagat winning here on the 2nd June, the same day as Glen Shiel was the only loser in that sequence, although he has won here at Newcastle since (Class 2 under Hollie Doyle!)...

...all of which steered me towards...a 1pt win bet on Canagat @ 5/2 BOG as was widely available at 8.20am Saturday (although a couple of firms were at 11/4), but as always please check your BOG statusTo see a small sample of odds offered on this race...

...click here for the betting on the 4.50 Newcastle

Don't forget, we offer a full interactive racecard service every day!

REMINDER: THERE IS NO STAT OF THE DAY ON SUNDAYS

Here is today's racecard

P.S. all P/L returns quoted in the stats above are to Betfair SP, as I NEVER bet to ISP and neither should you. I always use BOG bookies for SotD, wherever possible, but I use BFSP for the stats as it is the nearest approximation I can give, so I actually expect to beat the returns I use to support my picks. If that's unclear, please ask!

Stat of the Day, 27th June 2020

Friday's pick was...

12.15 Doncaster : National Anthem @ 7/2 BOG (3/1 after a 20p Rule 4 deduction) WON at 10/3 (Awkwardly away, soon prominent towards far side, led over 1f out, ridden and ran on well to win by a length) - Nice to get back amongst the winners again.

Saturday's pick runs in the...

3.00 Newcastle :

Before I post the daily selection, just a quick reminder of how I operate the service. Currently, I'll identify and share the selection between 8.00am and 8.30am and I then add a more detailed write-up later within an hour or so of going "live".

Those happy to take the early price on trust can do so, whilst some might prefer to wait for my reasoning. As I fit the early service in around my family life, I can't give an exact timing on the posts, so I suggest you follow us on Twitter and/or Facebook for instant notifications of a published pick.

Who?

Nkosikazi @ 5/1 BOG

...in a 6-runner, Fillies And Mares Group 3 contest for 3yo+ over 1m2f on Tapeta worth £20,983 to the winner... 

Why?...

They say a picture paints a thousand words, so today's piece is going to rely heavily on visuals, starting with...

Your first 30 days for just £1

...the unique Geegeez racecard...

...which has a red number 2, which when clicked opens...

...then the pace/draw heat map for 5-6 runners contests over C&D...

...and the GGZ Speed Rating of 85...

She won nicely at Redcar nine days ago off the back of a 231 day absence. I actually backed her that day too, so I'm very aware that more is needed from her today, but she should hopefully come on for having had the run and she did look like she had plenty more to give if needed.

The step up in class allied to this being her debut on Tapeta (14 Flat runs and 2 on Poly @ Lingfield, including a third place in a Listed event under Tom Marquand when beaten by less than a length) are the reasons why she's as big as 5/1 in a 6-runner field, but surely there's some value there.

I do think I've already got enough evidence to suggest she's worth putting my cash down on her, but let's also briefly consider trainer William Haggas who has a great record when introducing previously raced horses to a new A/W surface for the first time ie...

...impressive stuff indeed, and here are 10 (relevant today) ways Mr Haggas got those 60 winners...

  • 56 from 142 (39.4%) for 72.3pts (+50.9%) over trips of 7f to 1m5f
  • 46 from 119 (38.7%) for 62.93pts (+52.9%) ran on the Flat LTO
  • 34 from 91 (37.4%) for 27.65pts (+30.4%) in non-handicaps
  • 31 from 79 (39.2%) for 86.54pts (+109.54%) at odds ranging from 5/2 to 9/1
  • 24 from 61 (39.3%) for 13.31pts (+21.8%) on Tapeta
  • 11 from 28 (39.3%) for 7.2pts (+25.7%) here at Newcastle
  • 7 from 12 (58.3%) for 15.19pts (+126.6%) in races worth £17k to £30k
  • 6 from 19 (31.6%) for 8.84pts (+46.5%) with Tom Marquand in the saddle
  • 5 from 11 (45.5%) for 8.73pts (+79.3%) at Class 1
  • and 4 from 11 (36.4%) for 0.79pts (+7.18%) from those stepping up by two classes or more

As ever, we can put some of the above together to form a composite micro-angle (long-term readers love a good composite), but we run the risk of diluting the dataset by adding more filters. However, (returning back to the visuals), you could try...

...from which...

...and they include...

...giving us...a 1pt win bet on Nkosikazi @ 5/1 BOG as was widely available at 8.10am Saturday, but as always please check your BOG statusTo see a small sample of odds offered on this race...

...click here for the betting on the 3.00 Newcastle

Don't forget, we offer a full interactive racecard service every day!

REMINDER: THERE IS NO STAT OF THE DAY ON SUNDAYS

Here is today's racecard

P.S. all P/L returns quoted in the stats above are to Betfair SP, as I NEVER bet to ISP and neither should you. I always use BOG bookies for SotD, wherever possible, but I use BFSP for the stats as it is the nearest approximation I can give, so I actually expect to beat the returns I use to support my picks. If that's unclear, please ask!

Stat of the Day, 6th June 2020

Friday's pick was...

2.05 Lingfield : Corvair @ 7/2 BOG 8th at 10/3 (Chased leaders, ridden 2f out, faded inside final 100 yards)

Saturday's pick runs in the...

4.30 Newcastle :

Before I post the daily selection, just a quick reminder of how I operate the service. Currently, I'll identify and share the selection between 8.00am and 8.30am and I then add a more detailed write-up later within an hour or so of going "live".

Those happy to take the early price on trust can do so, whilst some might prefer to wait for my reasoning. As I fit the early service in around my family life, I can't give an exact timing on the posts, so I suggest you follow us on Twitter and/or Facebook for instant notifications of a published pick.

Who?

Astrozone @ 9/1 or 17/2 BOG

Your first 30 days for just £1

...in a 12-runner, Class 5, A/W handicap for 3yo over 5f on Tapeta worth £3,493 to the winner...

Why?...

Saturday is generally a pretty tough day for us guys who stick our necks out each morning and publicly suggest a horse is worth a second look. Today is probably tougher still with the obvious lack of recent form/data to go on.

With that in mind, I've opted to seek one with a chance at a decent price, which won't upset me if it doesn't win. I'll keep the stats fairly simple and I'll also graphically (not up to Matt's standard, mind) demonstrate why I think we could have a chance.

Astrozone is a 3 yr old filly who has made the frame in each of her last six runs, all at this class (5) and trip (5f) and has proved versatile regarding going/surface. She was a winner two starts ago (runner-up LTO) off a mark of 66 and is eased a pound today back to an OR of 65.

She is trained by Bryan Smart whose modest figures since the start of 2017 of...

...are dramatically improved to...

...when looking at his sub-12/1 handicappers here at Newcastle with an Impact Value of 2.12. These 54 runners, when assessed against today's conditions are...

  • 11 from 48 (22.9%) for 36.4pts (+75.9%) at Classes 4 to 6
  • 6 from 24 (25%) for 11.92pts (+49.7%) after finishing 2nd to 4th LTO
  • 5 from 20 (25%) for 25.6pts (+127.7%) off a mark of 56-65
  • and 3 from 7 (42.9%) for 24.31pts (+347.3%) after a 3 to 6 month layoff

She's drawn in stall 9 which seems to be smack bang in the middle of the where the pace is expected to be

in a contest where being drawn high also seems favourable as shown in the pace/draw heat map

There's enough there in the data/graphics to suggest we should at least get a good run for our money at a nice price...

...hence me going for...a 1pt win bet on Astrozone @ 9/1 or 17/2 BOG as was offered by Bet365 and 888Sport/Hills respectively at 8.15am Saturday, but as always please check your BOG status. To see what your preferred bookie is quoting...

...click here for the betting on the 4.30 Newcastle

Don't forget, we offer a full interactive racecard service every day!

REMINDER: THERE IS NO STAT OF THE DAY ON SUNDAYS

Here is today's racecard

P.S. all P/L returns quoted in the stats above are to Betfair SP, as I NEVER bet to ISP and neither should you. I always use BOG bookies for SotD, wherever possible, but I use BFSP for the stats as it is the nearest approximation I can give, so I actually expect to beat the returns I use to support my picks. If that's unclear, please ask!